OPINION

Let’s go all the way – aaaaaaargh! – let’s go all the way

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A problem shared is a problem halved, and Tass is hoping it’s the same for her worries about completing the Deloitte Ride Across Britain…

I’ve always wanted to ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It’s a classic cycling challenge, isn’t it? A must-do. One to tick off your bucket list. So I decided, this year, I was going to sign up for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain.

I’ve done some big rides in the past, including a few 100-milers (okay, two), but I’m 51 and I really don’t ride as much as I should. What tempted me to even consider the RAB this year was the fact that, for the first time, you have the option of riding just the England leg, or just the Scottish leg, and completing the other half next year (as reported here). Spread the effort, spread the cost, spread the dog-sitting difficulties…

Except… I began wondering what it would be like on that sixth morning, waving off the group of riders you’ve made friends with over the previous five days; watching them leave without you, working their way towards that achievement of riding from the bottom of the UK to the top without a 12-month break in the middle. And I thought, how hard can it be?

Nine days of 100-plus miles!! Who am I kidding?

I know it’s going to be amazing; I’ve read people’s comments on the RAB website. The food is meant to be delicious, the support top-notch, the facilities first class – the showers are hot and there’s even a pub for goodness’ sake! I know I’m going to get lots of help and advice beforehand with training and nutrition, and people who’ve never cycled before in their lives have completed it… Some have ridden it more than once… It’s life-changing, the best thing they’ve ever done… 

But even though I know I’ll feel the same (fingers, toes, eyes crossed), and the FAQs on the RAB website do address many of my concerns, that doesn’t stop me lying awake in the small hours wondering what we’ll do when the car doesn’t start and we miss the train to Land’s End and even if we do get there our bikes will have gone missing and even if they haven’t I won’t be able to find my tent after getting up in the middle of the night and then I won’t be able to wake up in the morning because I couldn’t get to sleep until 4am and…

Enough! I know that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and if that applies to worries too then by sharing them here they’ll all go away… And I’m hoping some of you might be able to offer advice – for me, and others who might be doing the same four-in-the-morning fretting.

So here goes. Tass’s RAB worries. In no particular order; a bit like how they are in the small hours…

1. Toilets - I’ll start with the basics. Each day will start quite early. Which means getting up early, breakfasting early, and… Please, please, pre-ride not mid-ride…

2. Legs - Yes, there are months to train. And yes, I’ve ridden 100 miles in a day on at least two occasions. But they weren’t consecutive days (they weren’t even consecutive years!). Will my legs/bum/arms/hands/feet be able to cope with nine days?

3. Sleeping/not sleeping - I’m quite a light sleeper. I’ve yet to find earplugs that a) stay in my ears all night, and b) fully drown out my other half’s snoring. I’ve seen how close the tents are laid out – and he’s coming too.

4. Camping - Okay, this is just like 1 and 3 combined. We did camping with the kids when they were little, but I haven’t slept under canvas for eight years. Not since the badger came in the tent. And I’d insisted we have our own Porta Potty in the tent, just as reassurance…

5. Midges - I have a bit of a phobia about bitey flying insects, and I imagine there might be some slow bits in the Highlands where we’ll come under attack. Incentive to ride faster, perhaps, but I have been known to throw things and scream. (Maybe that’s allowed.)

6. Getting left behind - Despite there being a ‘10-12mph’ group, which is (very slightly) slower than my average, I’m just not sure whether my average will last for nine days…

And that just leaves… oh, choosing the wrong clothes, bad weather, unfixable bike mechanicals, injury pre-ride, missing the train, failing to get a dog sitter… 

Any words of reassurance will be gratefully received. In the meantime, I’d better get training… and I’ll let you know how it goes over the coming months.

Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.

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