Essex Explorer 100 Mile Event: My Journey
This coming Sunday (8th June 2014) myself and a few friends will be taking part in the Essex Explorer 100 Mile Cycling Event. Parts of the route will be the same as the Cambridge to London stage of the Tour de France a month later.
I’m really looking forward to it, and as I think about it, I would never have seen me doing a challenge like this. So how did it all come about?
I guess it all started last year when I was rushed into hospital and then required an emergency, life-saving operation.
I was allowed home 6 days later but was unable to drive or do any physical work for over two months. During that time I was taken very good care of at home and was allowed to get away with some comfort eating 🙂
Once I was able to drive I started going to the gym to do the morning spinning classes; taking it very easy for the first couple of weeks and then working my way up.
The Next Step
Nancy suggested that I get my mountain bike out of the shed and go out for a gentle ride with her. The bike in question was about 18 years old!
I downloaded an app to my iPhone (Cyclemeter) to monitor my progress. This really helped me as I like to measure improvement but it also allowed me to look back at routes I had done. After posting a photo on FaceBook of the bike after fitting some nifty mud guards that I had just attached (yep, I was getting pretty hardcore by then) a guy called Tony Hemans saw the posting and added me to a Facebook group which was for photographers who were also into cycling!
I then downloaded a new app to my phono (Strava). This is a brilliant FREE app because not only could I record my progress but I could also ‘Follow’ people and be followed, just like Facebook. Instead of giving people ‘Likes’ we give each other ‘Kudos’ instead.
Out on the Road
My friend Matt Crossley suggested going out with him and a few others on rides so I took the plunge and bought myself a road bike.
Then it happened! I went to the point of no return… I bought a proper cycling top and a pair of Lycra shorts!!!
My first ride with them was around 35 miles, which was a struggle, but fortunately they stopped a few times to allow me to catch up with them and also for me to catch my breath!
Another friend of mine, Steve Marshall, suggested going out with him on a few rides. Steve was available mid week and not just weekends when I was working. Again I struggled but it did help me to improve. Within a few weeks I did my fist 50 mile ride and a week later I did my first 100+km (65 miles) ride.
I then found out a cycling event called the Essex Explorer Sportive. There were three distance options; 30, 69 or 100 miles and so I suggested to my friends “how about we do the 100 miles event?” Everyone agreed.
With something to aim for I continued cycling through the winter months, including always cycling to the gym. Most of my cycling was early mornings so so not get in the way of work and my other commitments. The down side was that it was often pretty dark and grim.
My First 100
The day after my 50th birthday I did my first ever 100 miles with my friend Steve. We made a day of it and stopped for a couple of breaks and for lunch at a pub but our actual cycling time was around 6 hours 15 minutes. I was very happy with that.
I have chosen to raise money for the charity Mind as my older brother, Colin, suffered from mental illness for the majority of his adult life before he was tragically killed when he was 39 years of age. Update: I raised £179 for this wonderful charity www.virginmoneygiving.com/JeffTurnbull
Health & Fitness Achievements
In the first 6 months of cycling I lost 3 stone. I also had a fitness assessment at the gym I now have a fitness age of 34! How cool is that?
Recently my friend and fellow photographer Tony Sale joined me on a training session to photograph me going through my paces.
Warning: The following photographs are of a man in Lycra!
I would like to give a big thank you to everyone who has encouraged me with my cycling challenge and to those who have also sponsored me.