Thanks goes to Ian Tallamy, IS; Mark Charlton, Communications Director; Chris Atherton, Commercial Team (all from Wakefield House); and Ian Evans (Aberystwyth) for kindly answering my questions...
Q Why did you decide to take part in last year's From A to B challenge?
- IanE: Looking for a new challenge - I think it was an age thing.
- Chris: I just thought it was a great idea. I saw it as another step in the development in the Smiths News PLC as an organisation and wanted to support that.
- IanT: I enjoy cycling. Years ago I spent quite a bit more time on the bike and wanted to get back into cycling. I had thought about setting my own challenges but when the A to B challenge came along, it fitted quite nicely with my own personal challenge of cycling more seriously and mastering greater distances
- Mark: Because my team were organising it! But also because I'd long wanted to complete a challenge ride - and Whizz-kidz are an inspirational cause
Q How much cycling experience had you had before the challenge?
- Mark: Well, historically lots - I used to race and I've ridden all over the Uk and Europe. That said, I'd not really been on my bike for five years.
- IanT: I wasn’t new to cycling but I was a bit rusty and certainly hadn’t done anything like those distances. The furthest I had cycled was about 50 miles – compared with nearly 350 miles in total (if you include the ride to the coast at the end)
- Chris: I had done one 4 day cycling trip with friends the previous year and had arranged something similar in May 2011 (6 weeks before the A-B ride)
- IanE: None
Q Did you follow Andy Cook's training plan? (if you did) How did it help? (if you didn't) How did you go about training for the event?
- IanT: Yes I did try to follow Andy Cook’s training plan. It’s actually quite a tough training plan and I didn’t manage to get all the cycling done that he suggested. For instance Andy suggested going out 4 times a week, but most weeks I only made 3 and sometimes only 2 sessions.
- IanE: No, as I’m a keen swimmer and swim a mile every day. I would cycle each afternoon for an hour to an hour and a half.
- Mark: I trained by riding to and / or from work about three times a week - simple as that! It's 25 miles each way, so it got me fit enough and was much nicer than commuting.
- Chris: No! I tried to get one decent ride in every week and used my other cycling trip as well so I got up to a few 60 miles rides pretty easily.
Q When you had a 'bad training day', what kept you motivated?
- Chris: The thought that I don’t “do bad days”!! Punctures are difficult to take though, they make for bad days…..
- IanT: Fortunately there weren’t too many of those, the weather was very kind to us training last year. I had a fixed training programme, so if I had to call off a day I would try and make it up next time.
- IanE: If I set myself a goal I tend not to give up on it.
- Mark: Beer.
Q What was your highlight(s) of the ride?
- Mark: The camaraderie, the people who came to support us - oh, and Chris falling off
- IanT: Day 1 – having done the mountain climb and enjoy the fantastic scenery. The rest of the week , the great satisfaction of getting to the travel in at the end of day and knowing that we made it. For the whole week, it was great to see that every single person made it. There was a great team spirit, motivating each other to carry on with the ride.
- IanE: The whole experience: meeting new people and working as a team. And the elation at finishing.
- Chris: The sprints over the 5 miles of each day were always good fun if you like that kind of thing, it’s a cliché but meeting and getting to know the rest of the team was great, it was a really varied group.
Q What's your top tip for those taking part in From S to N this year?
- IanT: I’m doing it again this year – my advice would be to get practising, go for stamina not speed and practice a few hill climbs to help build up stamina and strength. Don’t get stressed about the distances, as long as you’ve put in the practice you will make it!
- IanE: Get some good training in and enjoy the experience.
- Chris: Register for it, prepare for it and look forward to it!
- Mark: You don't need to be super fit or super fast - take your time and enjoy it.
Q And one for fundraising?
- Chris: Use the JustGiving text donation service.
- IanT: Raise money for a cause you’re passionate about.
- IanE: Try and get some friends involved and help you.
- Mark: Beg, steal or borrow. More seriously, it's surprising how many people will support you and it's possible to keep fundraising after the ride too.
Q Anything you'd like to add?
- Mark: I'm doing it again this year - so it can't be that bad.
- IanE: This is a great opportunity to do something for yourself and for good causes.
- IanT: The cycle routes are well planned, avoiding most of the A road and let you take in some fantastic parts of the British countryside. The whole thing is well run and well managed, with an excellent support crew to help you along the way.
- Chris: I’ve committed to something else during the same week as S to N otherwise I’d be on it again. Disappointed that I cannot be involved and hoping it goes well. Good luck to those who take part.