Fat Lad’s Turn

Jenn was a bright shining star that flitted in and out of my life like a incandescent swift. I first ‘met’ her at Sleepless in the Saddle 2006.

“Getting within striking distance of the timing tent I heard the all too familiar “on your right” and as I wandered over to let the rider past I slipped on a root and hit the deck. My relationship with the ground is hardly a distant thing, but to fall off just as a female pro rider who I admire rolls past me was just a bit much for my fragile male ego.”

Missing from my write up and what stays with me even now was the cheery “Are you ok? Good, have fun.”

Apart from various social media interactions she was no more in my life then any other bike journo/adventurer and although, knowing what I think I know now,it would embarrass her immensely to know she was always a rider I looked up to. Her write up from the Tour Divide is one of the most inspiring pieces of cycling journalism I have ever read.

Over time in a way I can’t quite piece together she was popping in and out of our lives in the process becoming good friends with Sarah. When her and Tom got together we all had heartfelt warmth in our chests and collective crossed fingers that it would be everything they hoped and everything we all wished for them. It was, and so much more. A couple so right it just made sense that for once it seemed like the stars had fallen into place for two lovely folk who really deserved all they had become.

The fucker of a truly unfair universe took Jenn from us too soon. Anyone who knew her was crushed. People whose lives she had briefly touched felt the loss keenly. When Tom and Jenn needed them the most St Gemma’s Hospice were there. Providing care and support to people experiencing the kind of thing nobody should ever have to go through.

It’s quite rightly become a charity and cause close to our hearts. The terrific people I am immensely lucky to have surrounding me have all done something incredible or hard to raise funds for a wonderful organisation without government funding. Sarah and Norna swam a marathon in 6 weeks. Tom *ran* the London Marathon in a very respectable time too. He wasn’t even being chased by a dog…

Still there? Awesome.

It’s my turn to do something daft and challenging. Something worth getting people to stick their hands in their pockets and donating money to something worthy. I gave it some thought. Then I gave it some more. Apparently eating pies and drinking Guinness isn’t challenging enough.

Instead I’m going to solo a 24hr race. Yup. Me. The bloke whose only riding these days is social mountain biking. You know ride to the fun bits have a dick around with mates then ride on to the pub. That kind of riding. He’s going to do a solo…

Now sadly Sleepless in the Saddle is no more. It’s a shame as I really liked that one as far as atmosphere goes. Far fewer middle pack wankers battling it out for 52nd place etc.

Mountain Mayhem 2017 is to be the event.

I’ve got a year to get myself to the point where I can survive 24 hours in the saddle. A year to get fit. A year to some how come up with the psychological strength required to ride round and round and round and round in sodding circles on the same sodding course. A year to… oh my god what have I let myself in for…

The longer miles have already started and time in saddle increased. The *shudder* training begins properly now. With this in mind I’ll be helped out with coaching and nutrition by the lovely folk based in Leeds at OTE Sports Nutrition. More on that soon.

St Gemma’s deserve all the money they get, and I intend to earn a bucket load for them.

It’s gonna be a fun old year!

Fat Lad