So today halfway day. Halfway in the training time for the Transaid charity cycle Malawi 2022 challenge and its actually going better than feared 😉
Transaid Cycle Malawi is 300 Miles (500 kilometres) in 5 days, mostly offroad, on mountain bike and with a mountain thrown in for good measure on day 4 – scary!
Starting the training in the beginning of June in absolutely zero form, weighing in at a whopping 114 kilos and with my last semi-serious training being for the one-day London-to-Brighton 13 years ago the odds were pretty well stacked against me meeting this test.
Good thing I like a challenge.
The first month was pretty much a nightmare, I had zero strength & zero stamina – “Mur de Bottrells”, the hilly road next door, nearly killed me a few times and twice I suffered the ignominy of having to get off and walk – getting off from a mountain bike on a tarmac road!
Once a upon a time I used to be a decent competition cyclist, in fact I competed for more than 20 years, so I know how to get in shape, but that was before I got severe arthritis in many of my joints. Getting in shape these days is more than just a challenge against getting old (and fat), it’s a balance act between building muscle and not overdoing it and breaking down. Slowly, ever so slowly building things up is the only way this is going to work.
Well, having started out with doing a simple (hilly) 6-mile circuit a couple of times a week along with a few water-treadmill runs, I managed to survive and build up little muscle and by the end of the month I did my first 15-mile cycle in more than 10 years.
This first month was the part I had feared the most – fearing that my knees would not be able to hold up and ‘breaking’ before I got started. I managed it though with only minor swelling and that is what the steroids are for! I used to be a fanatical anti-doping fiend when I was a competition cyclist, however these days prednisolone is my friend – without it I would not have any chance of succeeding in this challenge. With them I managed it and I was ecstatic 😊
In June I did 112 miles in total.
Then it was time for the real pain to start, still working with the ‘slowly, slowly’ approach I started building up the miles and the frequency, now doing 4-5 rides per week. It’s fair to say my legs have not stopped aching at any point since the start of July – and I don’t expect them to stop until after the 10th of October. Pain is also an old friend though, I won’t go as far as the soldiers publicly saying ‘pain is weakness leaving the body’ but I do know that the right amount of pain is my body saying ‘you are pushing it now, watch out’ so I do, watch out, and it’s working. The amount of pain tells me how hard to push!
Today I did my first 65Km (40-mile) ride, I did it on the flat – along the Grand union canal – and I am took my time about it with a couple good sized breaks on the way. 40 miles also happens to be the distance of the first, and easiest, of the 5 days in Malawi so I am getting there, now I will just need to build up so I can do it 5 days in a row – including the 93 miles on day 3 and the mountain on day 4 (52-mile day).
With the ride today I have done 240 miles in July, the target for August is 450 miles and 600 miles in September (including five ‘race length’ rides). That I believe should have me ready for the challenge – we will find out if I am right 😉
If you would like to learn more about Transaid and the great work they do you can read much more about it here: https://www.transaid.org/
If you fancy sponsoring me for the charity ride (with the money going straight to Transaid) you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/freddy-rasmussen
I shall be doing a block post weekly for the rest of the training period and daily during the challenge.
It is going to be fun – and painful - but mostly fun and for a great cause.