By the time you read this, I will – I hope – not even have looked at a bicycle for a week. I will not have been tempted to slip into my Lycra and head out for a long ride around Kent. I will not even have pedalled to work. Instead, I'll probably still be walking around like a cowboy after a particularly punishing session with some, well, cows. I'll explain.
As I type, I'm sitting in a small marquee waiting to be seen by a sports physio called Sue, who, I'm hoping, will do something about my knees. They're swollen and sore, which isn't that surprising because, over the past five days, I have cycled 575 miles from John O'Groats to Manchester, spending more than 30 hours in the saddle.
My journey doesn't end here, of course. As regular readers and followers of our new blog site will know, I'm taking part in the first Deloitte Ride Across Britain, a 1,000-mile journey over nine days from the northern tip of Scotland to Land's End in Cornwall.
Let me describe the scene on Day 5 of the ride, after a 112-mile leg from Ullswater in the Lake District. A grown man is writhing in pain as Sue tries to unstick his thigh muscles. Soon, I'll get the same treatment. Outside, 600 cyclists limp and hobble across a field, many in a zombie-like state as they head for dinner. Knees, Achilles tendons, necks, backs – everything hurts. There is sunburn, heat exhaustion and epic saddle-soreness.
But it's great – we're loving it. The sun is shining and people are smiling. The challenge is simple – get yourself from one end of Britain to the other while an amazing crew of tent pitchers, cooks and bike mechanics make sure you only have to worry about riding (and keeping yourself in one piece). On the way, we're meeting people and pain but also riding through some of the country's most beautiful landscapes – the Highlands and the Lake District among them. Sure, I've also groaned and grimmaced and, for a time last Monday, almost cried. But the eye-watering and thigh-chafing has been worth it to be part of something so epic.
By now, if you follow the blog, you'll know if I completed the course – and I'll be back here with an update. Just don't ask me to sit on a bike again for, what, another week? At least, I'd say.
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