You've probably noticed that we like a bit of a challenge at Ideal, particularly when it involves raising money for charity. It was in this spirit that me, account manager Tom Livings, senior network engineer Max Abramov and finance director Nick Childs teamed up to tackle the Capital to Coast: a London to Brighton road ride taking 1,500 cyclists from the London Eye to the sedate lawns of Hove.
C2C's a bit different to the famous London to Brighton ride in that there's a choice of which charity you'll raise money for: I chose Amnesty International. While there are fewer riders, it's a longer event: you can choose between 60, 80 or 100 mile routes. Nick and Max chose 60 miles, while Tom and I really wanted to push ourselves, so we signed up for the full 100.
Fail to prepare
Tom and I had never ridden more than 55 miles before, so we knew a bit of training would be in order. Our preparation involved three rides a week, covering routes between 25-75 miles long.
Living in the shadow of the South Downs means Brighton cyclists are never short of the opportunity to practice their climbs, and we're glad we did - the route planners managed to pick out a couple of proper challenges along the way.
We'd had a few breakdowns in training - we're certainly a lot quicker at changing tyres now - but on the day the mechanical gremlins stayed away. Tom's own drama came at about 55 miles, when he began to really struggle on a huge hill, completely slowing down. He recovered well, but a bit later, trouble caught up with me: about 15 miles from the finish my right thigh completely cramped up, and it took a huge effort of will to even get back on the bike.
Nick and Max rolled across the finish after 4 hours and 30 minutes. At 6h 40m, Tom and I completed our ride, then after a suitable pause, team Ideal regrouped over some well-earned beers.
What were the takeaways? For Max it was a 'wonderful feeling of achievement' at successfully completing the challenge, raising money for a good cause, and surviving his first ever sponsored event. Together Nick and Max enjoyed a brilliant camaraderie, supporting each other over the whole route.
For me it was a right leg devoid of feeling for about another two days, but also a confidence that I'm capable of riding a much longer distance at a sustained decent pace.
Between the four of us, we'd covered more than 320 miles, had an amazing time, and raised nearly £1,000 for our chosen charities.