In support of British Airways’ Flying Start, I was inspired to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats (986 miles in 12 days) from 14-26 June 2016. I was not an experienced competitive cyclist, just someone with renewed ambition and a zest for life.
So what inspired me take on what is commonly referred to as LEJOG – it’s been an amazing journey…..
Back in April 15, I was reasonably over-weight and unfit, but after attending a Well-Being roadshow hosted at Waterside by British Airways Health Service, this triggered me into improving my health and fitness by raising my self-awareness. I started cycling, became more food intelligent and became a bit fitter, which had the added benefit of fuelling me with more energy and ambition.
I was aware that in recent years there have been some amazing and memorable feats of endurance born out of ambition and performed selflessly to aid charities – David Walliams Swimming feats (English Channel and Thames); Eddie Izzards 27 multiple marathons and more recently Jo Brand walking 135 miles from Humber to Liverpool … are to name but a few.
With these remarkable selfless feats in mind and the clear benefits they’ve brought to charities, together with my improved fitness and greater confidence, I thought “why can’t I now also take on a momentous challenge to benefit a wonderful cause”. With my inherent curious fascination of travelling the entire length of the UK and regularly being in awe of those that have manged to achieve this in a variety of ways (some stranger endeavours than others), I also thought – “what is stopping me from doing this!”
So after a bit of research exploring organisations that support this type of challenge, I took the plunge and signed up to get ready to go!
I actively engaged in a 20 week training schedule designed to hit mileage targets. Through the training programme, my regular 30 mile mountain bike weekend rides soon transitioned to a road bike and increase up to 65-85 mile rides just prior to the challenge. In-between the weekend rides I could not put my feet up, but did approx. 40-65 miles during the week.
The ultimate goal was to raise as much funds as possible for Flying Start, plus finish the challenge in one piece. A goal that I am very proud to say successfully completed on the 25th June 2016 at 11:06, when I reached John O’Groats.
The actual ride was incredibly demanding, emotional, pleasurable, exhilarating yet also painful, as I picked up and carried an injury after day 4 of 12. Yet battling the rain; the numerous tough gradients and tiredness plus experiencing real tears of joy along with real tears of desperation, only added to the elation I felt upon reaching the finishing line and made the feeling all the more special.
This piece is a great opportunity to say a massive huge thank you to colleagues for all their very kind words of support and extremely generous sponsorship. The sponsorship donations received have currently amassed approximately a fantastic £3300 (at time of writing) includes pledges. Amazingly new donations are still being received even after the event and I am overwhelmed by just how much colleagues have got behind this challenge – it is so greatly appreciated. The generosity and support of so many colleagues significantly helped so much towards driving the motivation required to keep me going during the ride, especially when the going got tough – and it regularly did.
For those that may be further interested, there is blog that I constructed and updated daily during the ride that provides an account of the event as it unfolded, which can be viewed on http://paulcisselllejog.blogspot.co.uk
Many thanks so much once again and if you do take a look at the blog – I hope you enjoy it and perhaps it may even inspire you to take on a challenge of your own.
Life changing – yes definitely. Would I recommend doing this – absolutely.