I'm not going to lie, the reason why I signed up for the Velo Birmingham with my friends in the first instance was not for any altruistic reasons. We had just visited the Cycle Show in Birmingham and amidst drooling over expensive bikes that we could never afford, we also saw a stand advertising the 100 mile challenge. A bit of bravado, doubt and misplaced conviction ensued, and a few weeks later we had signed up.
The reason for signing up for the Velo Birmingham had been for altogether selfish reasons, largely based on the desire for a focus of a challenge. Having undertaken other endurance challenges in the past, I've come to enjoy the buzz of these events and the indescribable sense of achievement of completing them. It's a strange sadomasochistic thrill but one that is appealing nonetheless. Spending an incongruously fun time suffering with friends, coupled with sharing that one physical journey is a thing of joy and nostalgia. When I completed the 100km one-day walk in the Yorkshire Dales for Oxfam with some friends, it was like we had come back from war and shared dark experiences of pain and what seemed like survival that brought us all closer in an untold way.
So, yes, the thrill of a challenge and an opportunity to share it with mates was the main driver for taking on the Velo Birmingham. But, with all challenges I have undertaken, I have always done it for charity. After all, a tough challenge is a relatively convincing reason to sponsor someone for charity. So, it was time to make it less about me and support a cause.
But, which charity should it be? Well, Macmillan Cancer Support. Why? Here he goes again, banging on about his dead mother. True, it's going to happen, but she's an important part of my life so I'm pretty unapologetic about it. Macmillan is a charity that is close to my heart because they helped with my mother's end of life care in the hospice where she spent her last days. It's hard to describe the way in which a complete stranger, or several of them, can care so humanely and lovingly for someone so dear to you. Watching them deal with the dirty and dark moments with levity, tact and love is a tear-jerking sight to behold, and a strangely comforting reminder of the good in the midst of the most horrendous experience you might go through.
Witnessing that is just one of the reasons why I chose to raise money for Macmillan. There are many more. All you need to do is just check out Macmillan's website and you'll get an inkling of the depth of the information and support they provide. It really is impressive and humbling.
So, with the charity chosen, it was on to training. Waking up every week on a Saturday at 5am to go on a 45 mile bike ride and doing the odd commute during the week has helped to put some miles on the legs. In addition, signing up for a few 65-75 mile cycling sportives also gave us some motivation to keep the training consistent before the big ride and test us on increased distances. It's been an enjoyable and tiring process and a great way to keep fit whilst spending time cycling with the same friends that are going to be undertaking the challenge. Not sure our families have been that pleased with us frequently spending several hours, sometimes a day at a time away from home, but charity starts at home, right...?
Fundraising has, unfortunately, been less organised. Fortunately, I'm thick-skinned and relentless at badgering people, so we are nearing our target. Part of the unashamed approach is because I am confident in the charity I'm trying to raise money for and hugely supportive of what it represents. The result is that work colleagues, church members, family, friends and even strangers have been approached in a bid to up the donations. In fact, if you are reading this and have any spare pennies, please consider sponsoring me. I told you, I cannot resist an opportunity.
SPONSOR ME PLEASE at www.justgiving.com/froomewagon
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