When I started cycling I would have never of dream’t of even attempting a World Record talk about completing one. This World Record was not even what I was going for but I picked it up on my journey when I was attempting the World Record for the most Countries Cycled in 7 Days. It was the toughest trip I’ve ever done and I learnt many lessons in those weeks away, here’s how the first record all went wrong and I ended up with another.
I first came up with the idea of this world record when I had completed my 10 Countries in 10 Days Challenge and realised that my ability in cycling was stronger than I had thought. The Record is currently 11 and after doing the math I realised I could cover 15 with a few months heavy training.
The training started in January, I had an offer to become a spin instructor and I knew with some savings I could make ends meet up until the World Record came up. I was lucky enough to have met a Gavin Nixon from Traditional Renovations Ltd who was willing to sponsor me and help me with the trip. Without him it wouldn’t have happened. It was a great opportunity to do some charity work for a local charity of the little discoverers, children with a learning disabilities. I made the choice to cover this record solo and unsupported because I wanted to set it into stone, and would be very tough for anyone else to break.
The training started terrible, I had 3 very big hurdles to overcome.
- I couldn’t seem to get any good weather and I found the majority of my training was mainly indoor. I pushed on through cold weather and rain and was struggling to get the miles in, I live on the Norfolk Coast and on a daily run I was suffering with very heavy winds and quite bad rainy days.
- I was helping with a charity event which involved me spending 24 hours spinning, I had a great time but with the bike being very different to my road bike it started to take its toll on my knee, we had 21 bike running at the time and I refused to let the team down so I pushed through. The injury to my knee took me out for a month and I constantly struggled to build up to the big 100+ mile rides.
3. The wait on my racing bike. After having some problems on parts and the Sponsors logos I had this bike for only a month to train on before I went although I felt comfortable on the bike looking back it wasn’t enough.
I took this all in my stride and gritted my teeth and carried on, in my experience I have encountered many problems before trips, in this game you need to have the ability to just get on with it.
So the big day came all to quickly before I knew it I was wishing my loved ones goodbye at the Ferry and making my way to Holland which was my starting point. I was very nervous and didn’t have a good feeling about the trip. The weather was very bad and I held out for as long as I could before I had to leave. I had so much riding on this, it was a biggest challenge I have ever faced and I was so hungry for success.
As I sat on the ferry and I was bricking it, I had the whole of my town behind me after so many radio interviews and a TV appearance. I felt so much pressure but I converted that energy into drive and started to get very excited.
I got to my starting point and met a lovely couple who put me in there hostel for the night they were so good to me, these trips always bring out amazing people, It’s was a great start, they filled me with confidence and I plan to return to see them.
The first day!
As I woke I was full of confidence and very excited for the week ahead, the sunrise was beautiful from the window of a small hostel in southern Holland. At 4am I left the room to get the breakfast the couple had left more me, to my surprise I found them awake to see me off on my travels, many carbs, handshakes and hugs later I was going. I got to the border started my tracker and the go pro going ready for the toughest week ahead. The route I had done was similar on my 10 Countries trip so I knew where I was going. It was peaceful and quiet so early in the morning.
How did the World Record for the most Countries cycled in 24 hours come around? Well I found it while browsing the Guinness book of World Records Website. I had already applied for the 7 day record I cant believe I had missed this one. The record was 4 countries, on my first day I knew I was going to hit 5 on my first day if I put an 30 extra miles in. The day was long but I was really enjoying it, I struggled to find food at lunch time and I was regularly burning out in the afternoon but I pressed on. The familiar scenery was refreshing, beautiful countryside but it was so hilly I cannot believe the elevation I was covering carrying so much extra gear, as this was solo and unsupported it made the challenge that much greater. Coming late into the evening I started to feel quite low I was ready for bed, I needed some supplies for the next day but nowhere was open. I ended up spending £20 on Mcdonalds but I just had to replace the Calories. My knee was hurting, I knew I had done to many miles and to much climbing on the first day, I had broken a World Record but I was worried I had jeopardised the rest of the trip, though I was thankful that the weather wasn’t punishing me to much.
The Second Day
I woke up feeling tired but ok, my knee was swollen but I knew I could cycle and I was so far ahead of my target I knew the day was going to be to tough in the morning because of the hills and flat in the afternoon, which I was very excited about as the wind was going in my direction. The morning as expected was tough and my knee was swelling by the hour, all I could think about was the afternoon, a nice flat run. The afternoon came feeling proud that I was half way though my second day with only 75 flat miles to go. I had been eating so much food I had so much energy actually was a little bloated, I didn’t mind though at least I was burning out. When I first approached the flat section of 75 miles, the wind was pushing against me, it was so strong and was late into the afternoon. I started to worry I wanted to make a hostel before nightfall, I checked the weather and the wind had changed direction to against me and got stronger, 75 miles of headwind. On a flat like that id normally average 20mph, I was working so hard and only holding 15mph, my knee was suffering and my back was taking a toll, because I had been on the bike for about 8 hours that day already.
I started to stress and worry about the rest of the day. I had booked a hostel and knew I was going to struggle to get there. I was regretting not taking a tent and sleeping bag, it would have really taken the edge off. I fell on the side of the road, completely exhausted I had been forgetting to eat and drink regularly I was working to hard and stressing to much, I kept thinking why is this getting to me so much. Twenty Miles from the hostel, no food or water left its 9pm and I need supplies, lucky I came across a pizza van (yes that’s a thing!) one large pizza and a short trip to the hostel I was in bed ready for a good nights kip.
The third day
Sometimes you just wake up not feeling right, my knee had got worse it was massive. Should I see a doctor can I carry on I didn’t know what to do, I got my bags ready and thought lets get today out the way. Although in pain I was far ahead of my schedule and I knew this it was very reassuring. I was passing through Basel in Switzerland when I can to heavy traffic, it was the rush hour and my garmin was playing silly buggers. I kept starting and stopping and it was playing an awful game on my knee, until I got a sharp pain run straight up my leg from my knee, I pulled myself to the side of the road and dropped to the floor…. that didn’t feel right.
I knew I needed to rest, I found a close hostel and checked in, spend the day eating and doing the math that if I was ok tomorrow could I finish this trip. I took the Countries down to only 12 added 20 miles to each day and it was possible to have this day off.
The fourth day
As I woke I was upset, I had been up most the night with my knee is such pain. It was huge I couldn’t even walk now. I got the bike ready and went for it 3 rotations of the pedal and I was out, it was over. The messages were sent to my family, sponsors, a few radio chats and then I put this message on facebook.
“With a very heavy heart my trip comes to an end in a hostel in Switzerland.
After trying to ride this morning I have realised my knee is to bad. I know the difference of pain to push through and when I’m on the edge of damaging something long term.
I am fully capable of completing this challenge, I have just had rotten luck from the start. I need to rest and accept that not every trip will go to plan.
I am in the big leagues now attempting World Records, I know it’s not going to be easy, though I’m not sure what hurts more, my knee or my pride.
A massive thank you to Gavin at Traditional Renovations Ltd without him I would not have had this opportunity. I have danced in the rain, but the storm was to strong. I made a promise the Little Discoverers I would get them a trip out and some new equipment, I still stand by this. I will attempt this again, I be back stronger, faster and a more experienced rider. I still leave with one World Record which is a massive achievement alone since I only started cycling 2 years ago. Though il be dreaming of the other record which I will get in the future.
I was over 100 miles ahead on my second day, I knew I was going in strong but I went to far to early, I pushed to hard I gave to much, this was the result of my inexperience.
The lessons I learnt!
After a few days of reflecting I was very upset with how everything had gone wrong. Yeah the first day I picked up a world record but it meant nothing to me, I felt like it was a charity prize as I had wanted so much more. This trip was a big lesson for me a lot had gone wrong but I had given my all, I’m very proud of my achievement but I will return back stronger and finish this challenge.