Always read the small print. When someone says to you, ‘do you fancy a day off work and a weekend and Amsterdam,’ take a moment before you bite off their hand to accept. I didn’t, which is why, for the past few months I’ve been staring down the barrel of a 250km ride from London to Amsterdam.


Commitment is everything

Looking back, I should have seen it coming. Given that I turn up to work most days dressed in ill-fitting Lycra, I guess I should have been expecting the call-up when the agency decided to organise a cycle ride in support of their chosen charity.  So I did the decent thing and signed on the dotted line and, with slightly heavy heart, committed to what I knew would be hours in the saddle preparing for the longest bike ride I’ve ever contemplated.




Suffering for the cause

Now, having been there and done that, I can honestly say, I’m glad I did and I’m proud that I did. Yes, the training was a drag. Yes, there were moments when I wished I was at home watching re-runs of Breaking Bad with my family – most notably somewhere around Colchester (or was it Chelmsford?) as the rain fell and the wind switched to a head wind. Or was it when, at 5am the next morning, I accepted that the only hand-drier on the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry was not going to be able to dry my cycle shorts in time for the start of Day 2? Or was it when 3 colleagues ended up in a pile of flailing limbs and crunching carbon fibre on the tarmac just a metre in front of me? Or maybe it was the very particular discomfort that comes from eating too many energy bars.

A wet and cold team seek refuge in the van at the final rendezvous point before Amsterdam

Positively joyous

But, the prevailing memories are much more positive. And there are plenty to choose from: maybe it was the taste of the mouthful of warm champagne that came at the end of Day 2; perhaps it was the pride of seeing colleagues work hard together as a team, drafting one another to make sure no one was left behind on the road; maybe it was the mob of delighted Dutch teenagers roaring us on at the back of a windswept, rain soaked beach. 


“Big Rich” and “Chief McCreeth” enjoying a well-earned bottle of fizz

No regrets

Perhaps. But, without being trite or cliched I think it’s more likely that for most of us it was seeing the families and the children from Skylarks who were there to greet us with smiles and cheers as we rolled to a halt in front of the Rijksmuseum.

Yes it was hard, yes it was uncomfortable, yes there were spills and bellyaches, but it was an absolute thrill from start to finish and I whole-heartedly recommend that, if you ever have the chance to push yourself beyond your comfort zone in the name of charity, you seize it with both hands, no questions asked. Forget about the small print.

You can still donate

Skylarks  are a local charity who work tirelessly to support children and families with disabilities and additional needs. It’s impossible to hear about the amazing work they do, and the profound benefit they bring, without feeling inspired and humble. They hugely appreciative of all donations of any size and you can still contribute  here.


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