Hands up who’s for an adventure!
Guest Blogger: Chris Hands
I chose to compete in the London to Paris bike ride last year after a friend and colleague of mine nearly lost his new born daughter. She was in a terrible way as she was suffering from meningitis and severe blood poisoning at the same time. I could tell that this was one of the hardest things that a young family could through and the fact that the Ronald McDonald House was there to support the family and keep them together, at her side while she was cared for, made this terrible experience that little bit easier to bear. As the little lady in question came home and slowly recovered back to full strength we began to think of ways to help support and publicise the Charity that had been there in their hour of need.
I decided that fundraising would be a great way to do this and I love an adventure! I quickly hung up my mountain bike and purchased a good quality road bike, officially registering as a rider for the London to Paris challenge 2014.
I took every opportunity I could to get out on the road and practice. To start with, my rides were short and very taxing, but very quickly I began to notice the difference. Early on I was riding 10 - 20 miles twice a week and suffering for a couple of days afterwards. As I got the hang of sports nutrition and training schedules I soon found myself able to cover 50-100 mile rides, three to four times a week with no trouble and feeling more energised than I ever had before. I was ready for my big ride!
The fundraising was a lot easier than I thought it would be - anyone who knew my friend and what he and his family had been through couldn't wait to donate. We managed to get the rest together by appealing through Facebook, my other half's sister organised a huge bake sale at her offices in central London and I had loads of support from all my friends and family. We ended up raising much more than the target by the end of the ride.
We met up with all the other participants at the start line on the first day and quickly made friends with the rest of the group. There were 72 of us riding together and everyone wanted to get on the road and prove themselves and make a difference for their various chosen charities, so the atmosphere was electric! The first day absolutely flew by, everybody had trained hard and this generated quite a lot of friendly competition. We all supported and encouraged one another and this brought on a strong sense of camaraderie. By the finish line we were all firm friends and a lot of us have kept in touch via Facebook ever since.
I would encourage anyone to get involved in an event like this! Throw yourself into it and train hard. It's a life changing experience and gives you a true feeling of accomplishment; you really get to feel you have made a difference. To top things off, my amazing girlfriend, Jemma was there waiting with several members of both our families to greet me. My plan was to quietly propose to her at the finish line, I had no chance of doing this quietly as everyone riding with us knew. Luckily she didn't turn me down as I ended up down on one knee with a massive audience. I'll never be able to forget the cheer from the whole group as she accepted! All of this made an already amazing adventure into something truly life changing and I can't wait to get involved in something else similar.