Back then I used to ride my bike everyday for transport and getting fit. On weekends I would cycle from Newcastle to Tynemouth and come back. I got to know John - one of my cyclist friends who has cycled across country and beyond a couple of times - and had a couple of training sessions with him. The longest distance I had ever gone on a bike before this event was around 30 miles. So tacking 62 miles sounded like a big challenge at the time.
The start and finish line of the all races was in Kingston Park Stadium. As I said before I would usually use my bike for transport, so I cycled to the start line which was around 10 miles away from home. I was not an experience cyclist at all and needless to say I was overweight and you can clearly see that I am not even wearing a helmet. (I still wonder how they let me ride that day. I don't remember any other cyclist without a helmet). I had no time goal whatsoever , neither I had a specific strategy to finish the race. I just wanted to cross the finish line.
There were several hills along the course and the worst were a couple of back to back punishing hills in the last quarter of the race (I do not remember the course completely, so if you are thinking of attending this event you better watch the course profile). When I got to that uphill part I saw a few cyclists who were walking and pushing their bikes. That was when I decided no matter how bad I feel or how slowly I move I would never step down. Those were the moments that I experience the real struggle for the first time. The first time that I was challenging myself to endure. And as I climbed the second hill I could already feel the victory.
I crossed the finished line in 4:37 and cycled all the way back home. A year after that I started running (another endurance sport) and now running is an important part of my life.