So after a gruesome 11 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes and 4 seconds we finally made it to Gibraltar! In case you are wondering we can confirm that it is a bloody long way from Calais to Gibraltar, especially if you go via Austria and Slovenia! If you are ever thinking of making the journey we would suggest a more direct route.
But wow, we actually bloody did it!!!
It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. When people asked us how we were feeling about it/how long will it take etc.. beforehand we probably both would have given a macho “Yeah great”, “walk in the park”, “no time at all” type of response, but deep down, think we were both fairly petrified of the whole ordeal, especially given we had never done anything like this before. In our heads we were confident we could get there but physically, I don’t think completing the event, especially in the time we had set ourselves, was ever a done deal. There are so many moving parts, which make an event like this even more challenging. I think we are both of the mindset that if you are 100% confident of completing something like this, is not necessarily that much of challenge. The element of potential failure is what keeps you on your toes and really drives you to succeed. The thought of failing was terrifying, especially after us banging on about this all for so long.
The realisation of how tough the whole thing would be quickly became apparent after the first couple of sessions through the north of France. The adrenaline of starting had worn off and the effects of all the stress of getting to the start line really started to kick. There were a couple of moments in those early sessions where to be honest was thinking “oh S**t!”. You can train all you want, but nothing is ever going to prepare you for the moment when you already feel pretty crap and still have 10+ days to go. It moments like that, were one really gets to test their character.
However we persevered and kept chugging along, which is the main thing. As we discovered during our training and whilst on the road across Europe, the key to endurance events is to just keep moving!! The majority of the time spent on the bike your mind/body is calling you an idiot and telling you to get off the bike, which was as much part of the challenge. Physically it was tough, but mentally was a different level. It’s relatively (heavy use of the word) easy to get up at 12am or 4am once every so often for a training session, but to do it 12 days (sorry 11 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes and 4 seconds) on the trot is tough going, especially when four hours before you had just finished another session. Everything is fighting against you, its dark, cold, hilly, you’re tired, the uncomfortable sofa bed suddenly feels like the most comfortable place in the world, but you have to get up, so you find a way to do it. Some people have said “I couldn’t do that”, but another thing we have learnt is that if you really put your mind to it, YOU CAN! You manage to drag yourself out of bed every day to get to work! It is a slightly less extreme example, but same vein of thought, if you really want something or have to do something (e.g. go to work), YOUWILL find a way to get there eventually.
So what can I say about the route, it was awesome and awful at the same time. We went through some truly amazing scenery and to go through it, all at a relatively slow pace compared to normal, meant you could really appreciate the finer changes. Going through so many different countries in such a short period of time meant we saw a huge array of different views/architecture/local cultures/road surfaces (German/Austrian roads are amazing! Spanish not so much)/driving styles/climates/etc… which all added to the fun of an event like this. It’s not often you get a chance to take such a long period off work, so we tried our best to soak in as much of the route as possible, however this was more challenging at certain points.
A lot of people have asked what the best/worst moments were, ironically these both came in the mountains. They provide an amazing backdrop to enjoy, but being sat on a bike when you are knackered from the previous hour or so of climbing with another 5-10km of 15+% incline climb is not much fun at all!! Its moments like those one really questions why you are doing this! But if you keep moving, eventually you will get there and the huge sense of satisfaction when you get to the top provides an awesome high, and makes you able to really enjoy the view, especially when you have 5-10km of decent!
As mentioned earlier, is really tough to fully comprehend that we have actually done it, the last 9-12 months have flown by but have also produced moments of serious stress/anxiety around getting everything done. But the feeling that don’t need to worry about getting on a bicycle for a while is a great sense of relief.
One thing that can say truly did help us throughout the whole event/challenge/ordeal was the amount of support from YOU, we got on all our various social media pages. Is always great to know that people have your back and are wishing the best for us. It made getting up in the middle of the night to cycle for four hours a bit more palatable. This support is also super important for us, in the quest of generating enough excitement to get potential sponsors involved to help us complete everything. We are both confident we will hit our targets and the fact we are now one event down, will really help us with discussions, but having support from everyone like you makes it a lot easier.
So what now!!! Well…. we are now allowed a couple of weeks off training, but it will not be long before we start gearing up for the Marathon des Sables and agonising over every last gram of weight we have to carry.
On that note, time to sit back and enjoy a bit of R&R and maybe a cold beer or two!
One thing, as always will ask, if you know ANYONE who might be able to help us in our quest of gaining a sponsor, please do let us know and be more than happy to send some additional information.
P.S. One final thing that wanted to assure people about, as it seems to be the other major question people ask us when we explain what we have just done. Both of our bums are fine…..