Cycling for charity… (aka. The things I do for…)

3 May

When I was at school I was the chubby kid who tended to get picked last for all the games in PE. Well, until the arrival of some bigger boys with moobs that were more like boobs. My school peers seemed to think I was an unsporty type. In fairness I’m not. And yet, I’ve always enjoyed getting out and about cycling. And so, it was this desire to see the countryside that encouraged me to take part in this year’s annual Lap the Lough challenge – a 150km cycle around Lough Neagh on 29 August.

You see, I like the idea of a bit of adventure – a challenge. I’d toyed with joining my brother for the Mongol Rally this summer – a 1200 mile drive 1/3 of the way around the globe, but I can’t get the time out. Its a charity event, but primarily it was the idea of the travel – an echo of Victorian exploration – that attracted me.

The first week of the torture enduranceSo, doing this challenge is my equivalent. Its a personal endurance trial. I’ve only ever managed about 65km before, so this is well over twice my personal best. In a bid to make sure I complete the challenge I’ve decided to use the event to raise money for charity.

I’ve decided to raise money for a very worthy charity – the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children a registered charity which offers practical, emotional and financial support to children up to and including the age of 24, who are living with cancer, and their families.

In the few days since I went public with the campaign I’ve had such a response that I’m now determined to finish the entire 150km. If you’d like to sponsor me – please visit


[this is where it gets serious folks…]

Now begins the arduous process of getting into shape. I’m a large fella at the best of times, but I put on over a stone since November, and I’m struggling to loose it. I’ve begun my cycling ‘training’ (I think of it as ‘endurance torture’), but its a difficult process. I’ll keep this blog updated with my progress and rants of inevitable frustration. Remember, I’m torturing myself, so the more you give the more pain I’ll put myself through for you! I’m using to keep progress of my routes and distances too.

I put new kevlar-reinforced tyres on the bike (a Ridgeback Flight T2 seeing as you asked) after taking on about a dozen punctures in the last fortnight (last Sunday’s ride -13 1/2 miles – was a nightmare). My old tyres were well-shredded. Of course, Friday afternoon after a long cycle (15 1/2 miles) I took another puncture on my way up to the University. 200 yards from work there was a hiss, and when I stopped and looked at the front tyre I saw a huge chunk of green glass sticking out of the rubber. Typical. New tyres. Grr.

So I set off today after getting some photos taken to promote the fundraising (yeah, I’m really taking this seriously). Headed to Bangor, then to Newtownards and the plan was to go on to Comber and back to Belfast. A good 30 mile route. All was well until I got to Comber, and then the inevitable. Back tyre flat – despite new tube and new tyres having been fitted this week. Proved impossible to repair, and I was all out of spare tubes and ran out of puncture repair kit. So once again stranded, I had to phone for a ride with the bike back home. Whilst I didn’t make the 30 miles, I did manage 23 1/2 miles today which was pretty good going. Was just in my stride again when the ride was curtailed. Route is here.

I reckon my being quite overweight isn’t helping at the moment – its pressure the bike doesn’t need. I might be better off with better tubes too, and a new pump with a pressure gauge.  Don’t want to take any chances. I’m determined to complete this challenge, so despite all the frustrations and set backs I’m ploughing on.

If it wasn’t for the support I’ve already been shown I might have given up at this. So thank you to everyone that’s contributed so far! I thought I’d be lucky if I could raise a couple of hundred pounds for the charity, but I managed that in under a week so whilst I haven’t set a target, I’d love to raise a couple of thousand. There’s time enough. Not only do I benefit health wise, but so does the NICFC and the children whose lives are affected in some way by cancer.

Oh the things I do….


3 Responses to “Cycling for charity… (aka. The things I do for…)”

  1. Melissa Loukas May 3, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    I wish you the best with the training and the weight loss. Have you checked out how to start training? If this is the first long-distance course you’re doing, maybe you should start with shorter distances and gradually increase.

    All my friendship,

    • avalard May 3, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      I’ve done long distances, but not quite this long. As I say in the blog, I’ve begun the endurance torture training. And if you look at my route maps for my cycles you’ll see that’s exactly what I’m doing – increasing the distances gradually. The organisers of the event do have a suggested training plan. I’ll do something, though probably not their exact plan.
      Weight loss vital at the moment…

  2. Melissa Loukas May 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    I wish you all the best, and I’m glad that you’re training sensibly! And with all the torture training, I’m sure the weight loss will come in time, too.

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