I crawled up the hill on my fully laden steed (that appeared to weigh as much as a small car) to the 'official' starting point where all my best Bristol mates had gathered to see me off early on a crisp february morning. Amidst a great start banner and some suitably dry english wit, I started cranking the pedals, and with a lump in my throat from the touching send off and a big grin spread across my face, I headed out into a generous splattering of British winter sunshine and an imminent future that I dreamed would hopefully comprise some of the most challenging, interesting and defining moments of my existence
But before long they were on the backburner as the hills and rain arrived, the legs screamed and the fingers and toes stung with numbness. This led to an enthusiastic personal berating over the choice to train and physically prepare once I hit the road, and thankfully not a moment too soon was I back in the warmth at Hannah and Niels's place, before more great (read: flat) canal riding into London to spend a few days with little sis and take in some of the great culture the massive capital has to offer.
Given my nickname of 110%, a new notable challenge was also arising to learn to slow down and engage in my surroundings - this is no bike race and the humble steed was just the ideal tool for immersive travel - after 15 years of riding many types of bikes as hard as I could this was going to be some adjustment!