Journey to the Tour de France: Part 1

In the first of a series of blog posts in honour of this year’s Tour de France, Everyone Active’s Group Food and Beverage Manager explains how and why he got into cycling in the first place and how he managed to go from a complete cycling novice to taking on some of the toughest terrain out there.

Here, in the first instalment, we here all about his initial inspiration and how he went about getting his road bike in the first place and the first tentative steps towards making a pilgrimage to the 2018 Tour de France.

Why did I get into cycling?

In 2010, Ben – a colleague of mine – sent out a company-wide email asking if anyone would like to help him raise money for the Royal Brompton Hospital who had saved his new born son with heart surgery at birth.

The plan was to ride from our most northern site, Cleethorpes to the most southern, Weymouth in three days visiting as many of our sites as possible, raising £25,000

To give a little background, over the previous three years, I had somehow managed to put on three stones in weight, having given up playing football after my daughter was born. I needed to give the time I had previously spent playing football to my kids instead.

Naturally, over these three years I tried to get fit and go on diets but I could never stick to them, I would get injured and that would be the end of that. This went on year after year.
So, when Ben’s email came round, I thought, “yeah, let’s do this”. I needed a challenge and came to the conclusion that I should ‘Let the Bike take the Strain’

Choosing my bike

I contacted the Everyone Support Hub and signed up for the ‘Bike to work Scheme’, got my voucher and off to my local bike shop I went. Without a clue what I was looking for, in I went, looked for the sexy looking bikes. There was a BMC bike there that you can take for a test ride if you leave your credit/debit card with them. I took advantage of this, the sales assistant set the seat for me and asked if I needed to know anything else, to which I replied “nope”.

I set off and did a circuit of the roads at the back of the shop in Kingston, but hold on, how do you change gear? I rode all the way in one gear (I look back at this and it makes me giggle) back to the shop I went thinking “do I say anything?”

I plucked up the courage to ask, when he came to me to see what I thought, not wanting to smile, he was polite and showed me on the brakes, how they shifted left and right. I went bright red and laughed it off, in a calming voice he asked would I like to try again? Of course I did…

I got back, liked the bike but my word was it stiff, and I felt every bump through every part of my body, I mentioned this.
Again in a voice so not to upset me; “Well sir these bikes are for slightly different body shapes to yours”. “Ah”, I said “not overweight people. It’s okay, you can say it, this is the reason I’m starting.”

We then went check out some bikes from the ‘Specialized’ brand, and looked at the ‘Allez’ model. Being me, however, I had to go up to the mid-range model and get the Sport, she looked good and, from what he said had better gears, than the 105. I just smiled and nodded.

Once again, I took it off for a test ride and it felt completely different, I immediately knew it was the one for me. Happily, it was on offer, which meant 20% off the asking price, which sweetened the deal somewhat.
He then asked me about which shoes and clips I’d like, to which I replied “what are my options?” Once again, he was very helpful, he took me over to the wall and I saw the shoes I wanted, white with red to match the bike, while on his advice, I went for the Look Keo Classic road pedal.

So far I’d got the bike; check, pedals/shoes; check, but I still had to get a helmet, spare tubes, a seat bag for tools, tubes, a pump, as well as the clothing, socks, gloves, top and what I later knew to be the most important piece of kit – the padded shorts.

But at this stage, it was just the cheapest best looking lines would do for me, all came to just over £1,000 and, with the voucher I had, I only had to pay a fiver. Happy days!
The bike would be ready the following week for collection, and then I could finally start riding.