One of the side effects of growing up is that you somehow become responsible. When I was growing up we used to have things called sweet shops, this will give you a clue to the generation I belong to. It was a treat to go for a visit and I could never understand how the adults could resist the urge to buy as many sweets as they wanted. I couldn’t fathom why the grown-ups around me with the money and the freedom to do what they liked, just didn’t fill their boots.
A similar pattern emerges through adolescence. Whatever your indulgences there will be a point, in my case waking up with a terrible hangover, when you start to ponder if the excesses of the day before were really worth it. You ignore it, try again, then a short time later you have the terrifying realisation that you can’t really behave like this anymore and you have started to care about what the boss thinks. Now you are on the slippery slope to grown-up responsibility.
There are a few grown-ups who have somehow managed to avoid this slope of responsibility and are still behaving with the freedom and enthusiasm of a child with a $100 note in a sweet shop. For the majority or us, we have to wrestle with our conscience and our ability to see beyond the impulse for instant gratification and weigh up the long term impact. If I have that next drink, dessert or ride those extra km’s, what will be the implications?
Even if you do throw caution to the wind and go for it, you will often regret it the next day as you no longer back up like you used to. The road to recovery gets harder each time and unconsciously this modifies your behaviour, then one day you are quite happy to be the designated driver and drink fizzy water all night!
Mid-life is exactly what it says, you are in the middle of something, no longer young enough to behave with reckless abandon and you still have a significant time before you arrive at your final destination, old age.
Like many others I manage these forces in my life today and yet I still have this strong urge to just cut lose, to fill my boots, and jump into my passion without worry or justification.
So I have decided that this year I need to regress, to do exactly what I want and to create a life for the present and not worry about the future beyond 24th June 2017. For this is the day that I will start riding my bike on a 21 day charity cycling journey that will take me over the same Tour de France route that the pros will tackle, just one week ahead of them.
I love riding my bike, I have done for the last 5 years. Starting off as a complete novice I have thrown myself into riding greater distances, participating in sportive’s and traveling to various places in the world to ride.
Along the way I have become fitter, happier and more adventurous. Three years ago I rode with the Tour De Force who organise the tour for the William Wates Memorial Trust. I rode for 8 days through the French Alps and finished up in Paris. It was the closest you can get to being a pro, all you have to do is sleep, eat, bike, repeat.
Since returning from that adventure Robyn, my lovely wife, has joined me in my cycling pursuits. We are well aware that we can come across as a bit of a cliché to some of our friends – married couple with teenage kids, spending quality time on bike rides, drinking lattes and wearing matching Lycra.
But bike riding is a little bit more for us, it has become part of who we are. We have spent a lot of time riding with each other over the last few years, completed some of the most challenging one day events here in Australia and have been thinking about bigger challenges.
So we decided to jump in and sign up for next year’s Tour De Force. I will be riding all 21 stages and will be known as a “lifer”, we are still debating how many stages Robyn will do. We shall wait for the course route to be published but as a minimum Robyn will ride the last week of the tour, over whatever mountains they put in our way, and our reward will be that we get to ride into Paris together.
My Grand Depart is still over 270 days away as I write this, which should give us plenty of time to get organised. Given that we live in Australia and with everything else going on in our lives we have already started to plan. From a work perspective we will fit our training around our work commitments and combine the two. If we have to travel, the bikes come with us. Holidays have been planned around cycling adventures and training blocks. The kids will get to experience real independence and learn to look after themselves, unless they want to join us on the road.
We are going to enjoy ourselves as we get ready for the Tour and along the way also raise some money for a great cause. We have been thinking about creative and innovative ways to fund raise and we have already put one into practice. Rest assured we will be asking for a donation from you all along the way and also hope to be able to offer something in return.
We will be recording our journey to the start line with regular blog updates and we have developed our own website to keep track of it all. Our media savvy teenagers also advise us that we have to have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts so we can develop a following. The accounts are in place, let the following begin.
You can check it all out at www.ratherberidingmybike.com and we look forward to sharing our bike indulgencies along the way.
Ben and Robyn