3 min read

The Velo Birmingham – This might have been a bad idea.

Right, so, some background.

I moved to a new house with my family from South London to Loughton, Essex in February this year. I made a promise to myself that when we had moved I would buy a road bike, which I did at the end of April.

Since then I’ve ridden it as much as I can. I have a wife and two-year-old with another baby due in October and I travel a lot with work – as much as a couple of long-haul 5-day trips a month – so time is at a premium but I try and get out as many days as I can. I’m averaging 15 – 20 miles a ride at something like 16.5 mph. Which doesn’t sound a lot when I write it down – that’s probably because it’s not.

I’m 45 years old, I’d consider myself a bit overweight compared to what I’d like and I’m asthmatic. I also like wine. All of this makes the ‘choice’ I recently made all the more strange

The Challenge.

Against most of my better judgement, I have entered the Velo Birmingham. This takes place on Sunday, September 24th and is 100 miles long. That’s 100 miles. The website describes it as ‘an unforgettable 100-mile route on completely closed roads taking them through the picturesque Worcestershire and Staffordshire countryside before returning to Birmingham.’ Frankly I’m not sure that the route being picturesque is going to help me – it’s still going to be 100 miles. There will be 15,000 other people taking part. That doesn’t really help me either.

What I didn’t realize when I flippantly said yes to doing this was what a big deal 100 miles on a bike is. Cycling UK describes it as ‘a landmark for any cyclist.’ On the website for the Velo event, it says ‘Completing a 100-mile ride is a milestone nearly every cyclist strives to conquer’. I can guarantee you that that wasn’t the case for me a week ago. The Velo also describes the distance as ‘the equivalent of the marathon for runners.’ I’ve never had the inclination to do that either.

I Suppose I Should Probably Train…

I am however very competitive – I’ve played sport to a relatively high standard and went to Leeds Carnegie the sports college – the drive to compete and to complete a challenge is there and I can already feel my motivation increasing each time I get on the bike. In the last seven days, I’ve done 10-mile, 20-mile, 25-mile and 30-mile rides (on which I swallowed a bee on one) with a couple of turbo training sessions added in. Tomorrow is a day off and Friday the aim is for 40 miles.

However, there’s a problem. The more I read the more I realise that training schedules for the 100 miles are anything from 8 weeks to 14 weeks in length. I started at 7 weeks and by the end of this week, I will have 6. More concerning is that next week I will be abroad working for 6 days and in mid-September, I will be abroad again for 10 days. On both of these occasions, I will have little access to a bike – the hotel gym will become my best friend. Taking all this into account I fear I’m going to be well behind the curve as we hit the start line.

I Introduce to You, my Team Mate.

I say we because I will be cycling the race as part of the London Midland team with Rob Lewis. Rob is a Director at Mission Performance and someone I would also describe as a good mate. To say that he is a seasoned cyclist would be putting it mildly. This year he rode the Caledonian Etape and recently rode from London to Monaco across Alpine passes included in the Tour de France. A mutual friend described him recently by saying “Lewis…Good God, he’s a bloody monster on a bike.” My aim is to ensure that he doesn’t do serious damage to his neck by cycling 100 miles having to consistently look over his shoulder whilst muttering “where the bloody hell is Burgess”

So the training has begun and I will be blogging and vlogging as we go. If you want to see how this turns out, or just want a good laugh it may be worth following.

Written by
Matt Burgess

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