On the 2nd September 2018 I am riding my bike from Manchester to London in one day, just the 220 miles and probably more than 16 hours of pedalling to complete the Rapha M2L ride for Ambitious about Autism. Why you ask?
Well first off this is preemptive action! Over a late night Gin and Ginger ale Boom declared that “it’s about time I entered you into something again…….Given previous experiences of him entering me into the London Marathon at 90 days notice and the numerous mentions of the “Sandy long run” (MDS) I thought I had best make myself busy!
Secondly, I have wanted to do this since I first heard about it two years ago. My keenness was thwarted by the Road Captain (Uncle Malcolm) last year when he explained I wouldn’t make it! Too slow and not good enough on hills was the verdict. So I took on board the feedback and did hills (Slowly) and got faster and stronger on the flat culminating in a 126 mile ride to see what might happen to me on a long ride. Good News – nothing bad happened!
Whilst cycling is an individual effort, no one else can turn those pedals! It is all so a very social sport and my third reason for doing this is the cycling heroines and heroes that I have met in the last 12 months who have motivated and inspired me and made me believe I can do this. Last May I was facing my fears of hills when I was what we now describe as “bike napped” by the amazing Bee and Princey and they opened up my cycling world introducing me to the RCC and all the wonderful Chapter members. A fabulous source of all things cycling. The adventures we have been on, the laughs and giggles, the miles in the rain and the wind, the cakes the sherry have made us more than a club we are a team and we can do so much together.
Last but not least is the fact that this ride is for a really good cause. The sense of achievement will be made all the more by the fact we will be raising funds for Ambitious about Autism. The work of this amazing charity is to make ordinary possible for children and young people with autism.
So what does that mean and why is it so important? It means going to a school where you are supported to learn, thrive and achieve. It means being part of your local community. Taking part in social and leisure opportunities and making that transition to adult life whether it is independent living, supported living or working in a paid job. All sounds pretty reasonable right?
This journey for a family with a child with autism can have many challenges. Diagnosis, coming to terms with that that means for you and your relationships and your child can be a long and lonely path. Ambitious About Autism campaign educate, train and support to make that path more ordinary for all. I have only seen this journey as an observer. As an expectant parent you always think “10 finger 10 toes is all I want” when really there is so much more, you want your child to be happy fulfilled, never scared, to feel no pain, to love and be loved by all they meet, not to experience difficulty and adversity, discrimination or labelling. For them to be their best self. Hard for any parent but for a parent of a child with autism it comes with added challenges. From the side lines I have seen the pain, the soul searching the realisation that this is a long game, the fights for the support, the confusion from the multiple sources of information and the hard choices you face both at home and at work as a parent. Every child is special but for thee folks they just want to also be a little bit more ordinary.
So I have a good support crew and a great cause to help me pedal my way to London and I will also have my bike bestie with me aka. The Bike Boss. His reasons for doing it are 1. I have nagged him for two years 2. On a side by side comparison on Strava he would hate it if I had the longest ride (I already have the highest climb which is not popular) 3. He is never convinced I will make it round a corner on my own so thinks he should probably keep an eye on me. P.S if reading this don’t mention it is not for the cats protection league …I may have fibbed a bit. When asked to vote for a charity for our company to support he opted for a cat one and marked clearly on his form “because I like cats more than people”
He also has a few reasons not to do it 1. 16 + hours with me (I estimate he will say “oh Susan” more than 100 times in the time it takes us to get there with the eye rolling despair that normally accompanies it) 2. It starts in the north and he doesn’t like go past Bristol or leave the shire (Southern softie) 3. I will probably have a dramatic episode and be called stroppy pants shortly before I call him a C you next Tuesday. Points 1 and 3 happen every week anyway.
However, the promise of free food and new gadgets and outfits to wear has convinced him to join in the fun! So jobs have been divided up (delegated by me) Bike Boss is: Social media manager, in charge of training, bike cleaning and maintenance. I will supervise his work!
Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much” true story.