It's cold and snowing outside so I thought I'd take the weekend off (I'm technically ahead of my schedule at this point anyway) and explain to you all why I'm actually doing all of this training; why there's a button on all of my blogs asking for donations; and, well, why I'm writing a blog in the first place.
Firstly, why the training.
Well in the summer, I am taking part in a charity event called Le Loop (https://rideleloop.org/) in which amateur cyclists get the opportunity to cycle the exact route of the Tour de France, one week before the pro-peloton takes to the start line for the Grand Depart. You get the choice of riding the whole thing (21 stages, 23 days, ~3,500kms); or doing specific groups of stages. In 2018 I have signed up to cycle six stages (stages 10 - 15), the first three of which are in the Alps and the second three of which are flatter, although by no means easy!
As you can imagine, there are not many amateur cyclists in the world who can just hop on a bike and do that kind of challenge without building up to it, hence the fairly rigorous training schedule! Last year I rode 4 stages and got to the end in one piece, however this year I want to actually enjoy it. I want to be able to take in the beautiful scenery. I want to enjoy the views. Ultimately I want to be able to cycle up Alpe D'Huez on Day 3 and actually appreciate what I'm achieving, rather than slowly crawling up in a sweaty mess just being thankful to get to the top.
I'm a long way away from that as I type this but I've got faith in the training plan and, after last year, I know how much work is ahead of me. The mental battle is the hardest part for me so just knowing what is yet to come is a huge benefit this time around.
Now to explain the button asking for Donations.
As I mentioned above, this is an event that's run and organised by a charity/trust - The William Wates Memorial Trust (https://wwmt.org/). Please visit their page there as that will describe what they do a lot better than I will be able to but I will try to do them justice nonetheless...
To put it briefly, WWMT gives out grants to loads and loads of smaller, relatively unknown charities who work very closely with underprivileged children and young adults in our communities. These charities don't have their own national events (race4life, or London to Brighton ride etc etc) so they really do rely on receiving grants from Trusts like WWMT to survive and to continue their amazing work. All of us riders will be raising money for this Trust with complete faith that every penny raised will go towards incredible causes.
And this is where this button, along with you, comes in:
If you click on it, you will be redirected to my fund raising page where I am hoping to raise as much money as possible. Last year we reached just over £1,600... this year I think we can go even better. I know it seems like a long time until July, but the earlier we start the more money we can raise for these guys and girls. I'll be putting this button at the top and bottom of every blog post, so please do click on it and donate however much or however little you can do. If I'm out for 6 hours in the rain and wind then the least you can do is click a couple of buttons for me ;-)
Finally, why am I even writing a blog in the first place? I mean, I didn't last year... So why have I decided to do this in 2018?
Well I can think of 4 reasons:
1) I struggled to find much useful information on getting in shape for and how to prepare for multi-stage amateur events when I first signed up in the winter of 2016/17. I figured other people must have been in the same boat as me at some stage so if just one person stumbles across this and it helps them realise you don't have to be daunted by a large challenge like this; realise you can get in decent enough shape while also working a regular job; and structure a training regime around that working life then I think it will be worth taking the time to write these every week
2) I want to raise awareness of what I am doing, from a sponsorship perspective. You can't just go on Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram and beg people for money without giving something back in return. That's why people will be able to raise such large amounts for waxing their legs, because there's the entertainment value to go with it (Oh maybe I should do that! What do you think?! Maybe if the fundraising page reaches £1k by a certain date I'll get my legs waxed...)
This blog is my way of giving something back. On top of that I don't know rich people who will donate £100 a time so I'll rely on £5-£20 donations and in order to do that you have to reach a wider audience. I'm hoping that this blog will start to gain traction and will gain more readers as the weeks progress... So please share this all over social media if you like it! There's also the option of subscribing if you'd like to receive email prompts whenever I post something new.
3) It relieves a lot of stress. It might sound weird to a lot of people but writing on a screen in my study, to no-one in particular is actually kind of free, almost cathartic. I don't know who will read this. It could be a family member who I've known for my entire life, or it could be someone on the other side of the world who has never even met me and I love that.
4) This blog helps me focus. I mentioned earlier on that my mental strength can be my weakness and writing down what I've done from a training point of view every week helps me really focus on sticking to the training plan. I hate the idea of letting people down, even people I have never met before, so I'd feel terrible writing a weekly blog saying that I'd given up on a ride, or that I'd wimped out and cut rides short just because it was a bit windy. I feel like writing this will keep me focused for longer, especially in April and May when I'm doing back to back 100 mile rides at the weekends, so this may well be my secret weapon this year!
So with all of that said, I will end the blog there for today! Hopefully this has given everybody an insight into what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it, without boring you all too much in the process...
As always, please feel free to follow me on Instagram @twjw87, or click on the links in the ribbon at the top of this page to find me on LinkedIn & Facebook.
And finally, please please please visit the WWMT website, the Le Loop website, and my own Sponsorship page and consider sponsoring as much or as little as you can using the link below.
Thank you all for reading, you're all amazing :)