We both cycle to work every day in London, battling through the ever increasing luminous-clad commuters to beat public transport and get to work feeling full of energy and ready to start the day. Whilst this is a brilliant way to fit cycling in around everyday life, doing big rides is more difficult as life tends to get in the way.
We decided to take on the challenge of competing in the Isle of Man lighthouse challenge, a 100 mile road ride circumnavigating the beautiful isle of man, taking in the three lighthouses the island has. (There is also a 49 mile option, but we were of the opinion ‘go hard or go home’!)
Every one of the 250 cyclists participating in the event contributed to fundraising for the fabulous work of Hospice IOM, an Isle of Man charity set up to provide palliative care for free to those in need. This was something we both felt great about; our personal challenge would help make a difference to islanders when they needed it most.
Other than cycling to work every day, we both attempted some longer distance rides on weekends to help us gauge how we would need to pace ourselves on the day. Claudio lives on the Isle of Man and so he was lucky enough to train on some of the hills on the actual course. I on the other hand, am in London which has a distinct lack of very steep hills, so I focussed mainly on the distance. It has to be said that neither of us managed to complete anything close to 100 miles in advance of the big day.
The big day had finally arrived, and we set off early to the start line. We were eager to get going and I think we were both a bit nervous, not that we were admitting it! It quickly became apparent that despite having some pretty decent gear ourselves, there were some real professionals here. Clip in pedals, super light carbon fibre bikes, hundreds of gears and legs of steel were all present. Suddenly our kit was not looking quite so good! The first part of the ride went great, until we encountered our first flat tyre of the day. This did set us back a bit, but it was soon fixed and we were back on the road!
The hills were incredibly steep, and my road racing bike’s gears made them super tough. We eyed the clipped in pedals longingly as they overtook us but we kept going. We had arranged to meet our families at the final check point of the day, and by this point we had been cycling for an incredible 8 hours. We were actually in last place, slightly wishing we had opted for the 49 mile option but absolutely determined to finish. A packet of jaffa cakes each, some water, and a flapjack, and we were back on the road for the final leg. This was further than we had ever cycled in a day before, and it was starting to show. But we made it, and it felt brilliant to cross the finish line. It wasn’t about how fast we did it, it was about completing the challenge together, teamwork, and most importantly supporting the hospice. I think we will be back for round 2 next year, and we are both very proud of the achievement!