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Well here we are folks. Not quite the count down but only six months to go before my challenge ride. I have so far lost 11 pounds but still another 17 to lose before I can be considered to be at my optimum weight to carry me over 17000 ft across The Alps.

After my experience in the Surrey Hills ride I changed my tyres to Continental Gatorskins which are quite puncture resilient. I also had a reasonable week of training and building up core strength and flexibility. So I was quite looking forward to my first ever group ride with all the Hope’s Italian Job riders.

As expected I was in the slowest group and for the first few miles I was quite comfortable keeping up with the group, but then I started falling steadily behind. I couldn’t quite understand why this was happening. I thought may be the previous week’s tough ride was catching up with me or perhaps the group was too good for me.

If it wasn’t for Tim Hughes, the ride organiser and our group support rider I probably wouldn’t have made it back. He encouraged me to keep pedalling and eventually got me to the finish. Tim had never been called a domestique before but he certainly dragged me around the course. It was only then I realised why it had been so difficult. One feel of my rear tyre suggested that it hardly had any pressure in it. So much for being “puncture resilient”!

Thus thoroughly demoralised I got home and changed the tube. On checking, there was no puncture in the tube itself but the Presta valve was faulty and leaking steadily! On top of that the extra effort I had put in, my body ached in places where I couldn’t believe it could! The next two days were spent feeling low.

Thanks to Val and a kick on my butt, I eventually hauled myself back on my Wattbike and yesterday and today I had some excellent training rides. The aches are gone and the limbs have limbered up. I intend to maintain the indoor training and am quite looking forward to having a ride in my own backyard, the wonderful Charnwood Forest.  The following week is the 60 miles Meon Vale Ride organised by CFC – Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

The fundraising has been going well. Thanks to all those who have sponsored me both online and offline, particularly at Ryatt’s Optometrist, Charnwood Road Pharmacy and The Black Swan. More sponsorship forms have gone out to Hall Croft Opticians, Mercury News Shop on Field Street and Blooming Marvellous Florists on Charnwood Road. In addition I also have a form at Rosebery Pharmacy in Loughborough. Every pound donated means support for a very good local cancer charity www.hfcr.org and encouragement for me for my challenge. So keep those pounds coming.

Thanks also for the followers of this blog. This week there have been new followers from Sri Lanka and The Maldives! Welcome to all of you. This blog is all about motivation and inspiring others to live healthily and in the process learn about cancer prevention and the latest research into cancer especially in our local hospitals attached to the University of Leicester.

On Monday 16 March I will be visiting BBC Radio Leicester at 2pm for an informal chat with Rupal Rajani. I shall be talking about my challenge, why I am doing it and what I hope to achieve. So if you get time or access to the radio channel please tune in.

Until next week…