My addiction for cycling as an adult started back in 2014. I enjoyed cycling as a kid, but then I got a car, and barely touched a bike after that.

Apollo Gravity 14 years later when visiting my parents I spotted a bike in their back garden, looking very sorry for itself. It had been through a tough time to be fair – my grandparents found it dumped on their driveway, reported it to the police, who after being unable to trace the rightful owner told my grandparents it was theirs to keep. They didn’t want it, so gave it to my father, where it didn’t really get used, so I asked if I could have it. The chain was seized, and it had plenty of rust on it. I spent hours with a tin of WD40 and 2 pairs of pliers freeing each chain link individually (I hadn’t realised at the time how simple it was to replace a chain), and used Brillo pads and rust remover to clean the frame up a bit.

My first outing on it was a 2 mile ride to the local police station and back to collect some items, which had been taken in a burglary at our house, and had been recovered. I was shattered. I never remembered it being such hard work when I was a kid.

Slowly I extended my rides, to 4 miles, then 8, before accidentally riding over 20 miles with 1,220ft of climbing after going the wrong way. Going by the title of my Strava ride, suggesting I needed a medic urgently, I think this ride hurt!

Felt Nine 70 That was it. The addiction had taken hold. Within a couple of months I’d joined the Cycle to Work Scheme, buying a 2014 Felt Nine 70 Hardtail, a bike I still own, but is now a bit worse for wear. 2 days after purchasing it I’d smashed my average speed record, with 15.2mph over 8.5 miles, and only 218ft of climbing. Seems very slow now, but at the time I was super proud. With the addiction now in full swing, I was riding almost every day for the next few weeks, though never really increasing the miles much above 20. I needed a challenge to drive me on.

So I signed up for the 100 mile Great Notts Bike Ride, and decided to use this to fundraise for Down’s Syndrome Association – a charity close to my heart as I have a younger brother with Down’s Syndrome (pictured below). Knowing I had to do 100 miles forced me to train, and train properly. A good friend of mine who has been riding for many years became my unofficial personal trainer, and we started riding 50 miles after work once a week. This was tough. Very tough. It was the first half of the Great Notts Bike Ride that we were riding, and doing it on a heavy mountain bike, with plenty more excess weight on myself, didn’t make it any easier. To try and make it a bit easier I bought some road tyres (Schwalbe Marathon Plus), which helped a bit, but not enough as although they were narrower than the MTB tyres, they were also heavier.

Giant SCR3 A couple of months before the ride my mate sent out an email to his cycling contacts asking if any of them had a road bike they could either loan me for the ride, or sell me. One came back, saying I could borrow, with an option to buy, a Giant SCR3 road bike. The weight difference was obviously huge, and immediately I felt the difference. So I loaned the bike off him, had a few training rides before the big day, and was absolutely loving it.

My brother Hadrian and myself The big day came. My first Sportive. In training I don’t think I’d ever done more than 70 miles, and suddenly I had to do another 30 miles, plus riding to and from the start/finish to my mates (another 15 miles). I completed the total of 115 miles in 7 hours 47 minutes, at an average of 14.9mph. I have to admit to being a bit emotional on riding across the line, seeing my family, including my wife and 2 daughters, my parents and my little brother cheering me on. I’d done it. All the hard work had paid off. I’d completed my first 100 mile ride, and I loved every mile (except the hills, I hated the hills).

Since then I’ve replaced the Giant with a Sensa Lombardia carbon road bike, and have taken part in several sportives. In 2016, when fundraising for Down’s Syndrome Association again by taking part in my second 100 mile Great Notts Bike Ride, I made a dangerous promise to match the amount I raised by the end of the ride for miles on a single ride the following year. I raised £197, so rounded it up to 200 miles, and in July 2017, 3 mates and myself set out on a ride of epic proportions, from Nottingham to Skegness and back, in a single day. This was my toughest ride to date, more miles than any of us, or anyone any of us know, had ever completed. On returning back to base we had only actually hit 170 miles, and I was drained, emotionally and physically. 2 of my mates opted for beers and takeaways at this point rather than the additional 30 miles, an option I would have definitely taken had I not made this promise a year earlier. So with 2 down, it left 2 of us to complete the final 30 miles – the hardest 30 miles of my entire cycling life. But we did it!

And now, 4 years after catching the cycling bug, I’m signed up to 4 sportives this year, with more big rides planned, including another Nottingham to Skegness return (but without the extra 30 miles at the end this time).