So, I used to do a paper round on a bike. Admittedly I did a little bit of fair-weather mountain biking while studying in Guildford and during my early days in Bristol but, in recent years, the most I've managed is a ride to work and back - once a year at best.
So the obvious next step was to ride from Bristol to Paris. That's 280 miles in 4 days, with lots of hills inbetween! Mad? Possibly. Mid-life crisis? I'm too young for that (it was a hard paper round ok!). Anyway, decision made, I've committed, now the hard work begins.
Did I mention that I don't own a road bike? I was 14 when I last rode one and I hit a brick wall resulting in half a day in A&E with a fractured cheekbone and lots of grit embedded in my face. I still don't own one, so training has begun in earnest on my 15 year old mountain bike with front suspension - not ideal, but I am currently bike shopping.
I've never undertaken an event like this for charity before. There are a few charities dear to my heart, but I've always favoured dipping my hand on my pocket rather than putting in hard graft and asking others to support my efforts. However, I was inspired by a small team of riders from work who rode this event in May 2016 and the purpose for raising the money is, in my view, more than worthy.
All money raised by my participation in the Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge 2017 with Above & Beyond will go to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children's Major Trauma and Rehabilitation Unit. That money will benefit hundreds of children from across the South West suffering from traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
Each year over 40,000 children in the UK are admitted to hospital with severe brain injuries, but that's only the beginning of their journey to recovery. The long-term emotional and physical impact takes time to heal and for hospital can become a home for months and for some even years. As a dad to two amazing and beautiful cheeky little monkeys, I can only imagine how hard it would be if my children were admitted to such a unit, so anything that can be done to make a child's stay better for them and their families has to be a good thing. That is why I have joined this challenge to help raise £100,000 for this cause.
I appreciate that requests such as this are commonplace these days and there are many strains on finances. However, this is my first such request (and probably last if I manage to haul my exhausted body over the finish line in Paris next May), and any amount you are able and willing to give will help. So check down the side of your sofas, in the glove box of your car or wherever else those missing millions might be hiding. Just think, the more you sponsor me the more pressure (stress) I will feel into putting in a proper performance - plus anything to motivate me during the cold, wet winter will be a blessing - I fully expect some of my training to be truly miserable!
You can donate using the 'Give Now' button. The more people that know about Above & Beyond, the greater their impact, so please also spread the word by sharing my page with your friends, family and anyone else you think ought to know.
Thank you hugely in advance for your generosity, it will mean so much to the children who will benefit from it, plus it will make my winter training that much more bearable.
Ps let me know if you fancy joining me for a quick 60 hilly miles one cold, wet Sunday morning (hopefully avoiding any brick walls) ;-)