"My name is John Staves and I’m the managing director of Michael Aubrey Partnership Structural Engineers. It’s Wednesday 18 September and at 7.30 this morning I set off with 42 other cyclists to ride 90 miles from the Coulsdon Manor Hotel in south London to Dover, where we caught a ferry to Dunkirk. We’re staying now in a modest hotel a couple of miles from the ferry port. Tomorrow we start a history tour of the battlefields of France and Belgium.
There is a “new business” element to doing this: when you read the information about this trip it is billed as providing good networking opportunities and potentially there will be some of that and some new friends will come out of it. But that wasn’t the primary motivation.
I’m doing this because it’s a good cause: we’re raising money for Action Medical Research. But also because I wanted to address my fitness. My sports are skiing and five-a-side football, but I’d plateaued and plateauing in your 50s means putting weight on, getting sluggish. That affects everything, mentally: you don’t feel on your game at work, you don’t feel on your game with the kids at home – it affects everything.
The best bit of the day for me was managing to do it! It was my longest ever single day’s ride. Before this my longest ride was 75 miles, so I’ve done 20% again – quite a chunk – and the climbing was probably about treble what I’d normally do. I’ve only had a road bike since Easter.
Today was the most daunting day of the trip so there’s definitely a sense of achievement. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit easier. But in any case I’m now a little more confident than I was. The adrenalin was really pumping, even on Monday morning this week, waking up thinking about today, the amount of cycling, which I’m new to, and the trip itself – I’ve never done this kind of trip before. The whole package.
And I only managed to scrape together the minimum sponsorship on Tuesday, so there’s been a lot going on.
What I’m most looking forward to now is three days with no laptop. I am off work. Quite often, even on holiday I’ll have the laptop with me. But it seemed impractical and there won’t be much time to deal with stuff – I take it when I go skiing because you’re in the chalet by mid-afternoon, and you’re an hour ahead of home. But this is a proper break.
It’s not too late to give to the charity – here's the link to John's Just Giving page. "