There are Christmas traditions that go back years in my family. Leaving a mince pie and a beer out for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph, before we go to bed on Christmas Eve. My mum getting one of the horses to bite the carrot, and Dad drinking some of the beer and eating the mince pie. Being made to eat a minimum of one Brussels sprout alongside the oodles of pigs in blankets we put away during Christmas dinner.
Spending 500km on my bike isn’t normally one of them, it has to be said.
Yes, the Rapha #Festive500 challenge starts tomorrow, and as always happens when I read blogs from Nick and speak to my cycling madman of a boyfriend, I started to think it was possible. I joined the Strava challenge weeks ago. I’ve tentatively mapped out some 50 mile routes, and I’ve certainly carb loaded for the challenge, by eating just about every festive treat in my parents’ house.
There’s a very real chance I’ll fail this challenge. I’m not a cyclist. I’m an out of shape runner and just about a triathlete, wanting to be at home on the bike but yet to make that leap. My little yellow baron Archie and I are between us carrying a few extra pounds that don’t make us brilliant climbers; that leave us attempting to ‘spin’ up climbs but actually grinding our way up, with curses, gasping and sometimes a few little tears. We have some fun times, like this one, largely going downhill, but it’d be fair to say we don’t find our little adventures easy. We’ve been to club rides and had our first crash together, where Archie didn’t even scratch his bar tape and I did a lot worse than scratch one leg. We’ve been waited for up every climb on a ride with a group of 5 much more capable men, and gratefully accepted the occasional push from them, as well as handfuls of haribo when one of us was bonking. I’m pretty sure we’ve both groaned out loud at the thought of leaving the cafe stop mid-ride and getting back on the road.
So why on earth am I attempting a challenge that is completely and utterly out of my comfort zone, and that I’ll likely fail? Well. It’s impossible to get better at something without doing the work; endurance sport is nice and honest like that- you get out what you’ve put in, and there are no shortcuts, you just need to do the work. If the challenge goes well and by some miracle I manage to cycle 500km starting on Christmas Eve and finishing on New Year’s Eve, I’ll be proud of myself. I’ll get a nice Rapha badge as a memento, and be a stronger cyclist because of it, as well as having carte blanche to indulge in ALL the Baileys and brie in the house. If I fail, I’ll have learned a lot. I’ll have got myself out there in the cold, miserable winter weather, and I’ll have tried. I’ll have put in a damn good effort. I’ll still have gained fitness, mental strength and probably a bit more aptitude at fixing punctures.
Not every challenge has to be a success to learn and grow from it.
‘What if I fail? But my darling, what if you fly?’