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Song of the week: Morcheeba - The Sea

Takes me back to warmer and sunnier times...

So. Challenges. Whether being used as a verb, noun or adjective the word "challenge" has become part of our everyday lives. It's all around us, describing a new relationship ("Oh it's great, my new boyfriend/girlfriend challenges me and pushes me"); a social media craze ("The Ice Bucket Challenge"); or even a tough social situation ("It's such a challenging environment at home") so I thought it might be a bit cliché to write a blog post just using that sole word as a title, but here I am nonetheless... But why?

Over the last few weeks I've been listening to Greg James on Radio 1 as he went through his "Gregathlon" of climbing the 3 peaks (Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis) as well as cycling the ~500miles between them to raise money for and awareness of mental health through the Sport Relief platform and it got me thinking about the different challenges that everyone will face at some point throughout their... no scrap that... throughout OUR lifetimes.

Rather simplistically, I have split them into two categories in my head:

- Those within our control, and

- Those out of our control.

If I can draw parallels between the Gregathlon and my own summer exploits for a moment, I realised while listening to the radio that we are both pushing ourselves to overcome extreme challenges within our control in order to help those who are struggling to overcome challenges that are out of their control. I have chosen to cycle 6 stages of the Tour de France and yes, it will hurt, and yes, it will encroach on all aspects of my life while I train, and yes, I am having to sacrifice a lot in order to complete it... but they are all within my control. The money we raise together will support people who are facing circumstances which, for the vast majority, are out of their control. In fact this is true for anybody who raises money through sponsorship, whether by running a marathon, shaving their hair off, cutting out alcohol or just pouring a bucket of ice & water over their head!

Aside from a few extreme scenarios I feel like we can push our bodies and our minds to the limit and overcome those challenges that are within our control, without needing much outside help aside from maybe an encouraging word here or there. But it's not that easy to do when the control is out of your hands. That's why this challenge is so important to me, and why all of your donations are so special. They really will help people who need it.

So, now to answer the question in the first paragraph. Why am I writing a blog about a very clichéd subject? And why the heck has it taken me nearly a week to write it!?

I guess it comes down to this... I've seen, and experienced, all three sides of the triangle. I've experienced times with challenges out of my control (never diagnosed with depression but there have definitely been some very low points), I've pushed myself through tough challenges that were in my control, and I've also gone through periods of apathy with zero challenges in my life whatsoever. And do you know what? In my experience, the latter is often a precursor of the former.

When it comes down to it, we are all humans and we didn't evolve to be lazy and apathetic. One of the most important things to me is to keep pushing myself into new things and I would strongly advise anyone reading this blog to do the same. That's how I got into cycling in the first place.

Now, I am not necessarily talking about super endurance sporting achievements here... you could start to learn a language, learn a new trade, take up a hobby (I started fishkeeping for example - everybody say hi to Pip in the photo), learn how to create an app, or even something as simple as just reading a book for the first time in years can help to reset your mind. They are all challenges that are within your control...

Finally, a few blogs ago I wrote about something up and coming in 2020 and it feels very fitting to briefly elaborate on that in this blog. There are a lot of details to sort out between now and then, so this is far from finalised but I may have verbally agreed to attempt the whole Tour de France in 2020.

21 stages, 23 days, usually around 3,500km. Now THAT'S a challenge.

As always, thank you for reading. Please do come and say hello on all the social media platforms and please please PLEASE click on the link below to sponsor me for this upcoming summer.