Scroll to the bottom to read James’ reflections now the ride is completed.
Q. James, could you tell us a little about who you are and how you got to where you are now? Why did you get involved with Three Men on a Bike 2012?
A. I am an Internal Auditor for a large investment bank and have been working here for over 8 years, the last 3 in London. Luckily they haven’t seen the light yet… I got to where I am now by catching the 7:32 from Beaconsfield to Marylebone and then the Jubilee line which is just a chore. Tim asked me to wear the yellow jersey in the last 3 Men ride from Lands End to London so when the opportunity arose to wear it again, I couldn’t help myself as yellow is so 2012. Riding at the front of an aging group of “musicians” for 900 miles has always been a life long ambition… In all seriousness, it’s going to be an absolute privilege to stand at John O’Groats with 900 miles to ride, so I would like to thank Tim and Roland for giving me the opportunity to do so.
Q. What is your favourite quality about yourself?
A. My legs.
Q. What is your least favourite quality about yourself?
A. I have honestly sat here for an hour and cannot think of anything.
Q. Do you play an instrument?
A. Luckily for everyone in the vicinity, the answer is no
Q. What is your claim to fame?
A. Is this a serious question? I’m an investment banking auditor. Come on. (And I know Tim).
Q. What was your favourite outdoor activity as a child?
A. Cycling. I used to ride a lot until I got a car and the rest is the history.
Q. What are your favourite and least favourite types of music?
A. As a polar opposite to Peter, my favourite music is dance music but then I am considerably younger than him so that’s understandable.
Q. What are your favourite and least favourite foods?
A. Favourite food is Jaffa cakes especially when riding. The Lands End to London in 2010 was made considerably easier by the amount of Jaffa cakes that I consumed along the way! Apart from eating three whole tubes in one day meaning that I was somewhat hyperactive……. My least favourite food is fruit and vegetables which, as a vegetarian is a bit of a problem.
Q. Who taught you to ride a bike?
A. I still can’t. I’m working up to it.
Q. Who is your favourite sports personality and why?
A. David Beckham – his six pack reminds me of my own.
Q. Who is your favourite musician/artist/band?
A. I like Tiesto, Faithless, and Howard Jones.
Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?
A. Wash my car. Sad but true.
Q. What is your favourite place in the world?
A. My desk – I spend so much time here, it needs to be.
Q. When people look back at your life, how do you want to be remembered?
A. On a headstone.
Reflections on the ride, now it’s complete:
As I sit here feeling totally at a loss as to which coloured pen I should use next for my colouring in, there is something missing and I suddenly realised what it is. I didn’t wake up in a Premiere Inn bedroom that stinks of sweaty clothes and staring at my bike, I didn’t get dressed in my dashing Lycra outfit, I haven’t had beans on brown toast for breakfast, and I haven’t sat with a group of very very close friends with the in trepidation of having to ride a known mileage over an unknown series of hills and climbs. No-one has lovingly insulted me over my coffee, called me any name under the sun, or shown me the contents of their mouth as they eat. (Thanks Peter).
I really have genuinely felt lost for the last few days having completed a challenge that, 8 weeks ago I had talked myself out of. I remember sitting talking to Peter on the phone for an hour a few months back and saying that I was not going to be able to train hard enough for long enough and that I just didn’t think I would be able to do it. He told me that the thing he wanted the most was for me to stand on the start line at John O’Groats and at the finish line at Lands End and insult him. So I did. Repeatedly. And most miles in between. I wouldn’t have started this ride without his encouragement so I can’t thank him enough.
In reflection, the 10 days were some of the hardest of my life. Both mentally and physically. Not all of them but definitely Day 9 – “Divide and Conquer”. 109 miles and 8,400ft of climbing. Sheer brutality. It has certainly been a roller coaster ride.
The highs – riding with everyone as a group, as a pair or however the group was split at that point. Learning from the stronger riders like Neil and Simon. Watching the big girls flailing around with their triples……Drafting (rarely) or being drafted (thanks Peter) and helping and being helped to get from A to B every day. I know it was tough on us all, but we all encouraged and cajoled each other when the need arose and the spirit (read “banter”) of the “team” was enormous at times. The terrain in and around Scotland was simply breathtaking. Waking up in Fort William and looking out of my window and seeing the most sensational sunrise to start the day. Starting each day with a cwtch (welsh for hug) from Ma 2 and a pat on the back from Terry really helped more than they could have imagined. Never a cross word or anything less than a smile from either of them at all times. One of my funniest moments was leading out of the car park at Taunton and my Garmin said right and Tim’s said left so we sat there and shrugged at each other and then I rode off to the right and everyone followed. Got to the roundabout and everyone followed me, so I thought for a laugh I would go round the roundabout twice and see if anyone noticed. Which they did. And just kept following me until I chose an exit to take at which point I was almost in tears of laughter. Its simple things like that which can really lift the spirit.
The lows – when the pain was so bad in my knees and the hills kept on coming that I just wanted to curl up and sleep but Ma 2 patched me up, Griff kissed it all better and Jules took a picture of me at my absolute low and then laughed at me (in a loving way of course!) Watching some of the mental challenges that were being played out between the team when we all had our different “moments” and trying really hard to not let that reflect on the morale of the rest of us. Watching others go through the mental process of “checking out” of the ride because they were so low or in so much pain but then with a little help from others getting back on the bike with the sheer determination to not let this beat us. We started as one and we will finish as one. As Mr Lewis so aptly put it “we leave no man on the road”. And we didn’t. Ever. The final low for me was actually about 15 mins after we reached the end of the ride and I realised that I won’t (and still stand by it) ever do this again. And it was actually over. The elation of crossing the line wasn’t as great as I had expected as the anticipation I had built it up to be. I don’t know why but it just wasn’t.
I remember with less than a mile to go, Peter and I had ridden off at the front as usual and I turned and said to him jokingly “this is the last time we will ride together you old bu99er”. And then suddenly I didn’t want the ride to end. And I wanted to get up the next day and keep doing it. With all of the guys. But I couldn’t. Reality beckoned and two days later, and here I am now struggling with the realisation that it’s over. For now………. (and yes it is possible to cycle that far with less than 500 miles training under your belt – but only if you are riding a double ;o) )