I've heard an adventure called ‘a journey with an unknown outcome’. I seem to have an addiction to them; I’ve never been one for too much routine, certainty or predictability in life, hence the attraction of riding a very long gravel road to a dead end in the South American wilderness.
The first meeting with team Adventure Syndicate lasted about five minutes, and was what I would call the perfect introduction. Lee Craigie had kindly made her way to Girona station to transfer the weekend arrivals to the training camp. Magdalena and I were welcomed like old friends and when I let Lee know that I fancied cycling the last 15 miles I was neither doubted nor discouraged. Instead she let me know that there would be a bunch of like-minded souls waiting for me on arrival, and left me to it.
Anabell is one of the recipients of our bursary scheme, and will be joining us on next week’s training camp in Girona. Here she tells the story of how riding a bike has helped her reconnect with her adventurous side, and talks about the unexpected twists and turns of life as a cyclist.
Happy New Year! 2017 is going to be a vintage year for women’s cycling. We can feel it in our calluses.
Sport is full of extreme contrast: one moment you feel indestructible, the next you are almost weeping; one day you feel amazing, the next you feel wrecked. A few weeks ago I became a Paralympic champion. I felt physically fit and mentally strong. Now I feel exhausted; my body the most broken and tired I can remember, and mentally everything feels discombobulated.
"You are capable of far more than you think" we told the world when we set up The Adventure Syndicate. And it appears we were right, and perhaps should start listening to our own advice a bit more. Owing to its unprecedented success, we're extending our crowdfunder.
It was over. I’d ridden 23 laps in 24 hours. Approximately 245km and 8350m of climbing, 15 toilet stops, two packets of jelly babies, one pair of shorts, 20 litres of Ribena, four pork pies, the equivalent weight of a small child in banana flapjack, half a tub of Happy Bottom Bum Butter, one new favourite word (houfin’), countless new friends and title of UK 24-Hour Mountain Bike Champion 2016.
I ride bikes. I am a bike racer. I am a bike advocate. I do not consider myself to be a touring bicyclist. Is that even what you call people who go on bike tours? Nevertheless I agreed to ride a bike 600 miles down the coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego.
I stood on the hillside, my beam of light pointing onwards. All I could see through the darkness was the colourful rectangle of my GPS device directing my stumbles through the tussocks, and the flickers of other people’s beams up ahead and behind. My whole life was focused into that beam and my forward course.
Last weekend thirteen women and thirteen bikes gathered at Inverness's Velocity Bike Cafe, ready to ride the North Coast 500 - this time not as a 36-hour team time trial, but as a far more civilised eight-day tour...