On the first day of our Archie Big Bike Ride we went from the Children’s Hospital in Dundee to the branch in Inverness. 137miles, 9413ft, two Munro’s and just under 9h of cycling over the Cairngorms. At the end of this ride, there was no part of my body that wasn’t broken.
On day two we had the illusion it’s going to be easier however the wind was blowing the other way, the climbs were unforgiving and long and eventually we had done 123miles, over 6100ft in just under 9h, going from Inverness to the Children’s Hospital in Aberdeen.
Everyone is asking me how I feel today. Surprisingly I really feel fine, not much different to a good gym session, apart from the incredible huger for burning around 6-8k calories each day. I woke up at 5.30am today thinking that I could do it again. I suppose if your body is used to working out every day for years and in the last five months I have been putting a minimum 16h every week into solid training, so it doesn’t even know what it means not to be sore.
You must take a while to process experiences such as this one (although I’ve got the Etape Caledonia in 3 weeks so need to hurry up with the process work). It was pretty intense...really intense at times. We had snow, rain and hail for the first 70miles and that included climbing Glen Shee (our first major climb). It really did hurt, but then at the end of every climb was that thrill of an incredible achievement and the epic descent (after which you had to start climbing again…).
It’s astonishing what the human body and mind can do. Interestingly my head was really clear! I didn’t break once, knew why I was there, what I want and that I can do it. Literally didn’t have a single thought in my head after we passed Blairgowrie (primarily as the big ascent kicked in and all my vital functions were put into pedalling).
Another interesting experience was that it really was all about cycling. When you do a supported ride like this one, your whole being is about pedalling, and everything around you like sleep times, food, bike service, snacks, water supply, literally everything is arranged for you, all I had to do is cycling. It felt rather weird but incredibly good especially when in normal life you have three companies and a big outreach project to manage.
The money we’ve raised is for the Archie Foundation which now has three branches in Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen. It was a delight to visit all three of them, chat with the staff and some of the kids. We know the Dundee branch very well as we worked in different capacities with them, however I knew nothing about the other two. I am really proud we’ve collectively raised over £18k ! Those hospital wings do so much goodness and support so many families (a few that we know personally). If you somehow missed the link for donations just click here. It’s not too late and every penny really does count!
Finally! I wouldn’t have done it without the boys. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to cycle with 11 incredible men! There wasn’t a moment when I didn’t feel grateful for every single one of them, doing what they did, knowing that they are waiting for me on the other side of yet another climb. Never met a more fun and loving group that could push me though the Cairngorms, crack a joke and give the best hug ever. Each of them different, each caring and supportive and in as much pain as I was but still smiling and pedalling along. We were a group of different abilities, experiences and personalities but we were all equal and together for better (descent) or worse (yet another massive climb).
Big thanks go to the incredible Mark Beaumont who must have legs made of carbon fibre. Thank you Mark, you are a living example of how much humans can achieve if they put their mind to it. But you do it in a quiet and very humble way which is rare and even more admirable. In the culture that places so much value on social media appearance and self-aggrandisement, a small display of quiet virtue is pretty incredible, especially if followed by over 260 miles of continuous cycling, supporting your tribe and occasionally pushing a small person up the hill.
I must mention Mark Sinclair from the Bike Station in Perth. This man made us safe and cared for. We couldn’t have done it without the bikes and Mark always made sure they are on point. While smiling and sneaking jelly babies into your back pocket for those murderous climbs. Mark, Debbie and I had a little chat about yoga and cycling retreats so keep your eyes peeled.
Finally, thank you to the whole Archive family. My goodness, you guys work so much to help those who need help the most.