Self-confessed ‘rookie cyclist’ Natalie Ingham is taking on the mammoth 81-mile Sigma Sports West Coast Classic bike ride this weekend, in honour of her friend Leon Callon.
Leon was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice earlier this year, and along with family and friends who make up #TeamCallon, he has helped raised thousands of pounds for charities including St Catherine’s after he was diagnosed with a rare type of stomach cancer aged just 35.
In her second blog, Natalie explains how the generosity of her newfound cycling community has really spurred her on during training, and how she’s feeling ahead of Sunday’s challenge.
Things have gotten serious in this last month … really serious! Having reached the milestone of half-distance back in May, it was overwhelming to imagine how I could progress from 40 to 81 miles in time for the event. I had no choice but to just keep going out and trying each time to get further than the time before.
I discovered that although cycling alone, I am part of a huge community. The real-life cyclists give me a ‘nod’ of a greeting when we pass and each and every time I’ve been stopped roadside – most times just having a rest – I’ve been asked by a fellow cyclist if I’m ok. I was never more grateful of this than when my chain kept coming off and I didn’t know why. A cyclist from a local club stopped, told me what the problem was and put in a fix to get me back on the road. He also told me to consider their club if I was looking for one, because they never leave a person behind.
I was struck by this community spirit again a couple of weeks later when a cyclist called out to ask me where I was headed. I was aiming for 50 miles and didn’t really know I was going. He invited me to join him and his wife on their ride and they took me on the most stunning route in full view of the Three Peaks.
I got very lucky that day because he turned out to be a Team GB cyclist and sports physiotherapist, having competed and supported the national team in his age category for the last 40 years! So not only did I enjoy lunch with them, but he gave me a professional bike fitting and they both coaxed and encouraged me to clip into my pedals once I’d told them of my fear after falling so many times. I finished the ride having so much more confidence and amazed I’d been given that opportunity with them. Talk about right place, right time!
I couldn’t afford to miss a training session, even whilst on holiday in Wales. So my boyfriend and my dog dragged me to the summit of Snowdon – what a workout that was for my legs! I’ve also cycled different parts of the official route to make sure there are no surprises on the day.
The big ride is on Sunday and my longest ride so far has been 60 miles. It’s going to be tough to push that on to 81 miles and I’m feeling very nervous, but I will think of my sponsors and dig deep! I’m at almost 70% of my £1800 fundraising target and hoping to have achieved this by the time I cross the finish line. I’ll let you know how it goes.