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It’s all about the bike…A blog from first time cyclist, Kate O’Donoghue

18th May, 2017

A few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in partaking in a bike ride in Portugal. My obvious answer was YES!

A bit of sun, a bit of exercise, touring somewhere new, good food, glass of wine or 10. I thought I was on to a winner.

Then a few of the athletes in the office started saying “Are you mad?” and “Do you know how long that is?”

You can always rely on male friends for a bit of honesty. One doesn’t always need it.

Anyway, I was going skiing so I decided I’d deal with reality upon return in early March. But it was cold and wet and I hadn’t trained much at anything over winter. I got off to a very slow start. Day one on the bike entailed one lap of Richmond Park in the rain and retiring home feeling miserable with a mere 30km under the belt.

Soon after I set off to Windsor on a 100km-ish loop with a group. By the time I got back towards home, I could barely hold myself up on the bike. Needless to say I hadn’t eaten enough along the way (how cyclists are skinny, I will never know). At this point I was still cycling in my runners (aka trainers). But I had ages left to train. Kind of.

Two weekends in April saw me off home to Ireland. No bike training. A chaffing issue on my leg had me struggling to walk, texting colleagues about chamois cream and generally pissed off. Lesson learnt; don’t play touch rugby and partake in a rugby fitness session when you have stripped all the skin off your inner thigh.

The first weekend in May had me in tears on a Friday night. I had to pull out of dinner plans with a friend visiting from Ireland because of bike stuff. I was terrified of the training cycle the next morning involving 5 laps of Box Hill climb. Terrified. Nothing really scares me (besides mice and bare feet), I’m resilient, I don’t quit. Unless someone is sick or dying, it’s not worth worrying or stressing. But this bloody cycling training had me in tears on a Friday night. After a 5.30am start the next day, I was greeted by smiles and laughs by the training group. Surprisingly, there were a few of the other women in the group struggling with their self-belief. At least I wasn’t on my own.

Cycling for a non-cyclist is tough. Non-cyclists don’t get it. Real cyclists have built themselves up over time and actually enjoy getting up at 6am on Saturday mornings for a few hours on the bike (weirdos). It takes hours to train and the weekend is really the only time to fit it in. Hen parties in Portugal 10 days before the event are not ideal.

Then we got the details of the route. 3,200m of climbing on day one.

Are you sure it’s not 3,000 feet Kate”. Yes, I’m bloody sure!

“You know that’s practically a stage of the Tour de France……and a tough one”. The only thing Chris Froome and I have in common is the year we were born.

I’ve never done anything so far outside of my comfort zone.

My bike will be on Gumtree by the end of next week.

To sponsor Kate on her cycle, please click here.