Earlier on this year, I wrote a guest blog on challengesophie.com after completing London to Paris in 24 hours. The below is said blog - exploring what we learnt during the sleepless journey to the Eiffel Tower.
24 hours. Not much can happen in 24 hours.
Wake up, go to work, enjoy 3 meals, and go to bed.
On the other hand, a lot can happen in 24 hours.
I’ve recently experienced that your life and mindset can be shifted in just 23 hours and 52 minutes.
In May 2015, I decided to take part in Sophie’s London to Paris 24.
3 reasons why:
1. I wanted an event to ‘train’ for.
I like to pretend I am an athlete by calling my rides‘training’.
2. I’m mega interested in self development.
Even though the miles, hills and lack of sleep scared me, that’s what attracted me. I wanted to know how I would cope in that situation.
3. For the story.
I’m a documenter and aesthete who loves a story. This felt like the perfect opportunity to revel in all three.
Instead of talking you through each mile, each emotion and each peanut butter bar, I captured the key numbers in the illustration below (see end of blog).
For spending time with the image, Id like you to take something away. So here are the key learning’s explained in less than 5 minutes:
1. When it feels tough, you aren’t failing. You’re developing: Next time you’re on the bike and it begins to hurt, don’t get angry, get excited. See that pain as a goal not something to avoid. This may take a few practices, but the mindset shift will change your cycling drastically.
2. If you’re feeling fear, so is the person next to you: Help them out. We all think that other people cope with situations better than we do. Not true. Next time you’re struggling up a hill or feeling tired in a group, look around you. Chances are so is somebody else. Take the time to ask if they are ok or tell them they are doing a great job.
3. Share food: It could be the small gesture that gives someone hope. Whilst riding for 24 hours straight you think about food a lot. You tend to eat similar things so any change up is welcomed. At mile 40 on the first day, I was offered a homemade brownie. It felt like a huge victory. The second day at 60 miles, I offered up a homemade energy ball to one of the riders. Next time you’re prepping food for a ride, pack something extra. The face on your fellow rider when you offer it up will make the extra weight in your back pocket worth it.
4. Find a peleton as amazing as the one I was in, and say thank you to them all: The group I rode with were nothing short of superheroes. It’s a blog post in itself. For now, please take this advice away – next long ride you have, appoint someone to be the official ‘change’ shouter. Every 0.5 miles, they shout change, and the next person sits on the front. When you’re finished, don’t forget to say thank you. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the people who pulled me along to Paris.
5. Ask questions, you’ll be surprised how much people open up whilst cycling: During this event, I heard about jobs, home life, worries, fears, excitements and dinner plans. When there are no distractions and barriers are down, people open up in the most interesting and humble way. Next time you are on a ride, make conversation. The person next to you has a story that deserves to be listened to.
Cycling has changed my life. I see more of the world, I have a goal outside of work, I feel stronger both physically and mentally, I’ve met the most incredible people, I have constant instagram material, I can make exciting plans every weekend and I can feel such a spectrum of emotions that make me feel a different kind of alive.
We rode for 181 miles, climbed 7490ft and slept for just 2 hours. You don’t need to be in the saddle for this long to experience a positive impact.
I recently heard that 90% of our happiness is not dependent on what what we see, but how we see it. So next time you’re on the bike, look for something new about yourself or the person next to you.
I like to believe that cycling lanes are quiet so that when you do all of the above, when you help out a rider or when you question your thoughts… you can finally hear, loud and clear, your mind shift.
The London to Paris infographic.