It’s safe to say, I hate cycling. It’s unsurprising really – I don’t have the typical 10-stone build seen among the male cycling greats.
Add to that the often grizzly Yorkshire weather, a number of careless motorists and dark nights for what feels like half of the year, and I’m hardly raring to get out on the bike and train. I also don’t need my wife to remind me that after five long days at work, the weekend is prime family time.
But the torture I associate with training on the bike come wind, rain or shine – and the early stages of frostbite that I encountered last winter – all pale into insignificance when the pounds tot up for whichever charity I am supporting at the time.
I completed my most recent cycling challenge in March, when I travelled across 500km of Burma with an old friend. Nothing will prepare you for the 38 degree heat, the gallons of water you must consume to remain hydrated, or the cuisine – I’ve eaten snake blood, tarantula and green ants, to name just a few. But nor can you anticipate the incomparably friendly welcome you receive in every town you pass through.
As a business owner life can so easily become strained with daily pressures and deadlines, so there’s something quite liberating about it just being you and the bike.
With final donations still trickling in, our Burmese adventure has already raised more £3,000 for the William Merritt Disabled Living Centre in Leeds – a charity we’re very familiar with given the bathroom adaptations that our More Ability brand carries out for the elderly and disabled.
But there have been other trips for more great causes. In 2011, we cycled across Zambia, raising £7,000 for an African Revival school. We saw people living in mud huts, with no power, no water and very little clothes, but they were some of the happiest individuals we’ve ever met.
I fund the trips myself, so that we don’t waste even a penny on travel expenses. Our next international cycling challenge looks set to be a South American adventure in September 2016, but I’d be kidding myself if I said I won’t be out on the bike before then. It’s a love-hate relationship.