As i sit in the sun trap that is the McDonalds "burger garden" on day 7 (rest day) of my challenge i feel this is the perfect time to reflect on what has been a crazy week with plenty of mixed emotions flying around. So far i have covered 843km in 6 days and remain on track to arrive in Istanbul on 14th March.
The doorstep mile is a phenomenon described by Norwegians as the first step of a long journey being the hardest to take. I certainly felt this as i cycled along the Mall away from my loving and supportive girlfriend and family knowing full well i might never see them again for 8 months. There was a small part of me wanting to turn around and cycle back to them, tell them it was all a big ruse and go back home and have a brew. Instead of excitement, i had a deep seated feeling a dread with tormenting questions running through my mind such as "are you making the right decision?"
Fortunately, with the help of Charlie, Geevithan and Will (who were joining me to Paris) the sense of doom slowly lifted and i could clearly rationalise once again why i had chosen to pursue such a challenge. Although the weather remained atrocious for the next 2 days the sense of adventure and excitement could not be dampened. We all made it to the town of Omerville in time for the rugby and shared a beer whilst the English handed it to the lacklustre French team.
After a hearty breakfast we said our goodbyes and i was off to take on the next 2400miles alone across the continent to Istanbul. Knowing that i can be affected by loneliness and isolation i made the decision to throw myself into the challenge and smash out as many miles as i could before the rest day so as to ensure my mind was preoccupied by the cycling and not allowed to wander. Luckily enough the weather really picked up and i've been met with wall to wall blue skies and little to no wind allowing me to glide along the valleys. Whenever i'm feeling a little downbeat or disheartened all i have to do is look at my phone which has been bombarded with messages from friends and strangers willing me on. They really do make a difference.
Over the last 6 days i've learnt a lot about my body and my limits. I try and set off at 08:00 every morning so that i can smash out 50 miles before lunch which has been working well. Im a big believer in the psychology of "breaking the back of it" and so far it's been working well. After lunch it's usually a 30-40 mile glide into the next cheap hotel on the map. Although the mind is up to the challenge i think the body will take some persuading. My left knee is creaking a little and the last two days has seen me develop a strain in my left achilles. Nothing to debilitating but enough to warrant a close eye on their developments over the next few days.
I cant thank everyone enough for all their ongoing support. Tomorrow i set off again in search of warmer climates and smoother tarmac.
I will be updating the blog as and when i have the time and hopefully over the next few weeks will find my voice a little better.