Anna Parisi, 43, took part in Deloitte Ride Across Britain in September 2015, to raise money for the British Paralympic Association. Apart from playing on bikes as a child she had never cycled before. Here is her insight for novice riders preparing for the ride.
I’d started my training in January 2015 and after a winter of spin classes and lapping Richmond Park, with only 4 months to go, I could no longer put off facing my fears. It was time to clip in, venture out on to the open road and take on the seemingly impossible concept of building up to 100 miles a day.
As a rookie I was still very anxious. Here is what I wish I had known to worry less and enjoy the moment more:
- The ride organisers and chaperones are dedicated to your safety and enjoyment. They help with navigating busy traffic, provide encouragement on the hills and along the tiring last few miles of the day. They are masters in the art of distraction and making treats appear just when you need something to keep you going on the long road ahead.
- You need to eat, lots! I found it very difficult to eat an early breakfast and a big dinner. This made the morning riding very hard. Protein powder in my porridge, mini cheeses and pouches of pureed fruit (baby food) were my saviour, but no substitute for proper food and lots of it.
- Spending all day on a bike quickly builds confidence; my fear of traffic and descents had evaporated by the end of the second day.
- You get stronger every day. After the second or third day the distance and elevation isn’t nearly as daunting as it looks on paper.
- The long climbs take perseverance, but by going at your own pace you will conquer them. There is always encouragement on hand from chaperones and other riders, as well as crew members cheering as you get to the top. However, I don’t think there is such a thing as too much preparation for climbing hills and I wish I’d done more in my training.
- There is something special about being among the slower riders. There is a unique spirit of camaraderie and you’ll get to know many of the real heroes of the ride. From less experienced cyclists determined to raise money for a favourite charity, getting stronger and more confident with every mile, to cancer survivors and bereaved parents who inspire with their true grit.
- I can cycle 100 plus miles on very little sleep. A mix of adrenalin and worry stopped me sleeping properly night after night but as soon as I got going on the bike tiredness was forgotten.
- I didn’t need to worry about sore muscles or my lower back injury. I credit this to incredible attention to detail of the technician who did my bike fit and my osteopath who worked with me on posture, technique and preventing injury when spending hours on end on the bike.
There is absolutely nothing that the team behind the Deloitte Ride Across Britain have not thought of. So as a rider all you have to worry about is putting in the training and preparation, taking in the scenery and enjoying the ride – the view is so much better from a bike.