It was Thursday night just hours before a very early Friday embarkation for a 325 km cycling challenge, and it strikes me; I’m a mountain biker, I have never owned or even tried a road bike before! What was I thinking when I signed up to cycle from Paris to London in three days?

Then I look at the fundraising page and see the donations rolling in for Room To Read Charity and it is phenomenal. We are so close to reaching our target. I then look at the text messages I received from friends after making the following post on Facebook. Now I remember exactly what I was thinking when I signed up…

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“We don’t choose the place of our birth, the colour of our skin, our race or the social class we were born in. We could be born in a place where clean drinking water is a luxury or we could be in a place where too much indulgence require us to go on a detox retreat.

But one thing is for sure and that is the fact that education is key to changing the world. We can aid hunger and thirst but without at least a basic level of education things will never change.

If you are reading this, then you obviously have enough education to being able to read. (don’t take this for granted) you have access to the internet and a device (possibly more) that allows you to connect to Facebook and to read this post. I would say, you probably also have enough time since you are continuing to read…

I am not trying to make you feel guilty by any means, it is your right! I’m only trying to make you realise and appreciate what you might have been taking for granted.

A lot of children around the world do not have these opportunities simply because they were born on a different continent and in a different country. While we cannot change their world, we might be able to give them a chance so that they can change their own world.

On Friday 19th Sep 2014 – Sunday, I will be riding 325km from Paris to London to raise money for these children.

It takes you a few minutes to donate something that may not change much in your world, but will certainly help to change a lot in someone else’s world. Giving has to come from the heart and if you are making this donation, you need to believe in this cause. I really believe in it which is why I am embarking on this crazy challenge.

You don’t need to ride with me on your bike to support me, but you can ride with me with your spirit by supporting this cause”

Far from being daunted, suddenly I felt I had all it took to complete this challenge successfully!

Determination to succeed, the right mindset, and most importantly – a purpose! With these thoughts in my head I started to get ready – a bit late as usual..!

Despite starting first thing on Friday morning, I was not able to get home before 11pm on Thursday and it was only on arriving that I realised I didn’t have the tools to remove my click pedals from my mountain bike.

Oh dear, this really was not a good start to my 11th hour (literally) preparation! I started texting around desperately to find a solution. Lots of support, but no solution! Then I remembered that I had the mobile number for the owner of a bike shop near home… Could I? Should I? Desperate times, desperate measures and all that…

This was my last and only option, so I contacted the owner. My first pleasant surprise was to receive an immediate response. And then it was pure music to my ears; yes, he was happy to help. He opened up the shop for me at 11:30pm and helped me to get the pedals out. I could not thank him enough! It is sometimes all too easy to forget that the vast majority of people are decent, kind, thoughtful and always happy to help. Sometimes we just have to ask!

Parisa Louie cycling with techbikers to raise funds for charity_2

Day 1:

On a very early train from London to Paris, full of Techbikers. A diverse group of tech entrepreneurs with a wide spread of fitness levels. But all bonded by a challenge and a common purpose and goal – to help build rooms to read for children.

First things first…I made it! I have a shocking track record for ‘close shaves’ or completely missing planes, trains or automobiles. It was a close run thing but I did arrive in time. Next I had to learn to change gear on a road bike. As previously mentioned this particular member of the bicycle family is new to me. The position is totally different to a mountain bike as parts of my body would remind me later.

I’ll be totally honest and say that I had done absolutely zero training for this challenge. I don’t say that with any pride or as some kind of warped boast, I really wish I’d managed some specific training particularly as it was unlike anything I’d tried before.

However, the sheer dominance of work over my time and other commitments and events meant there was simply no opportunity to add any serious road bike conditioning to my days. Those of you following this blog will know that I am doing plenty of athletic training and I have kept myself in reasonable nick all my adult life, but those factors can count for little when trying something quite physically extreme and new.

The first few hours and the first steep hill would tell me all I needed to know and I approached both with trepidation. However, all went well, the body held up and lunch was gleefully enjoyed with my fellow peddlers. In fact, the first day was very pleasurable, and it was great to be a third the way through and feeling full of life.

The wonderful company of the Techbikers, the sense of purpose and team, not to mention liberal doses of good humour were all critical to getting a successful first day under our belts on course, on time and ready for more.

Day 2:

Woke up, lay quite still and made a gradual mental checklist: Feet and ankles – OK. Calfs – OK. Thighs – Absolutely fine. Bum – No problems. Ha ha, I’d got away with it; none of the pain and stiffness others were complaining about!Oh but hold on, what’s this…? My shoulders and neck were absolutely killing me! Really? How come? They’d not been doing much! I realised it was the difference in positioning to bikes I am used to and it was having an impact I didn’t expect.

Parisa Louie cycling with techbikers to raise funds for charity_3

The countryside on the second day was beautiful. Breathtaking scenery makes life much easier and I made note to take in as much as I could rather that just hunch over the handlebars, grit my teeth and focus on the immediate 100 yards in front of me.

Parisa Louie cycling with techbikers to raise funds for charity_4

The half of the body doing 95% of the work continued to hold up well, but the top half was still a grim mixture of significant discomfort broken up by occasional bursts of proper pain.

Oh well, as long as the legs can keep turning the pedals, this girl and this bike would make it to London!

‎Day 3

The final day dawned and this was the home run, albeit one of 100+km!

I already knew I’d been involved in the most amazing experience. It was a very genuine pleasure to bond with all the other riders, to share encouragement, joke, chat and hear about personal stories, professional lives, challenges they’d faced and overcome with their startups, challenges involved in identifying and investing in ‘the next big thing’. All fascinating stuff.

The primary concern on the last day was the big hill. Biggin Hill in fact.

Has there ever been a more appropriate name?! It was indeed tough and not at all helped by the winds. But it was so sweet to see the faster riders hang back and help shield the rest of us from the blustering and blowing. Nobody asked, they just did it as a kind of automatic act of decency and comradeship.

Parisa Louie cycling with techbikers to raise funds for charity_5

Then more or less on time we swept through London, passing so many of my favourite landmarks and finally ‘across the line’ at Google Campus, where there were so many colleagues, friends and family waiting for us. It was an amazing feeling and an experience I will treasure for many years to come.

It was an honour to share that experience with such a wonderful bunch of people and to know that we had raised almost £70k for such a wonderful charity was the ultimate reward.

But before it was time for my ever beckoning bed, there was a party to be held and some final fun with the team. Plenty of food and drink and the discovery of a new salad with quinoa completed my weekend’s adventure.

To everyone who took part – it was a privilege to have shared this experience with you and I am so proud of what we managed to do for the children.

Parisa Louie cycling with techbikers to raise funds for charity_6

Check out Week 1, Week 2Week 3 ,  Week 4 and Week 5 of Parisa’s Ultrafit Challenge and why not step out of your comfort zone yourself! Check out the challenges the Watchfit App has for you!

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