Nervously hunched over the laptop in late December, wondering whether this slight niggle in the lower back is going to ruin my preparation. Asking myself why on earth I’ve signed up to ride the gruelling Etape Du Tour 2006: up the Col D’Izoard, then onto Lauttaret and finally, after 160km, having to summon up every inch of my remaining energy to take on the legendary Alpe D’Huez.
I only started cycling in earnest a year or so ago. It helped keep me focused on the things I loved and on putting my life back together after years of alcohol and other substance abuse. I’m probably not the first, or the last, person with addictive/compulsive tendencies to discover the release that cycling offers.
I’m riding it for a charity called Get Kids Going, which offers mobility to disabled young people in the form of custom-built wheelchairs and trikes for sport and everyday use. I’ve said I want to raise at least 1,500 GBP for them. Actually I want to raise a lot more, but that’s my minimum.
At the moment I’m getting out for about one ride of 30-40 miles (40-65km) per week plus another 30 or so in commuting and other riding. That’s a generous estimation; I probably do less in reality. By June I’ll need to be able to sit in the saddle for around 116.2 miles to finish the Etape. Oh and I’ll need to do so while going up proper alpine climbs of 10% and more in some places.
So what do I need to sort out? Well here’s a basic list:
- A training plan
- Stop smoking at some point
- Find a training partner
- Fund raising, once everyone’s wallet’s have recovered from Christmas
- Possibly a new bike
There’s a whole load of other things I’ll have to pick up along the way too: eating while riding, finding an energy drink that is bearable, learning how to pace myself up long climbs, riding in a group and most important of all developing the mental toughness and confidence to do it.