A month has now passed and what stays with me most is how much I enjoyed the whole process – the planning, the training, the ride itself, even the difficult moments. I feel lucky and privileged that I was able to step outside the messiness of everyday life and single-mindedly tackle a challenge as pure as the South Downs Double. And I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do this without the unerring support of my wife Helena who was frequently left dealing with domestic chaos whilst I disappeared on yet another training ride.
I also feel enormous satisfaction from a plan coming together. I’m chuffed that I looked in detail at every aspect of the challenge (overcoming my natural impatience), worked out what needed to be done and got on and did it. An inevitable side-effect of this is that some of the magic disappears, those nutters weren’t actually super-human, they simply knew what it would take and had prepared accordingly.
I’d be absolutely delighted if any of this proves to be an inspiration to others although I do realise that the exploits of a 51 year old from Winchester may have a limited audience. My kids seemed momentarily impressed but quickly returned their attention to sibling warfare and losing stuff. Friends have been fantastically supportive throughout and very generous with their praise when I eventually go it done but, I suspect, also see me as slightly deranged.
I’m hoping that the memory of the ride itself will stay with me forever, there are bits that may already be fading but writing this is one way of preserving it. Perhaps I needn’t worry - the flying outward leg, the riders I met on the way, the sunset over Ditchling, the spookiness of Chanctonbury Ring at night, meeting friends and family at QECP, the final joyous descent into Winchester – these are all memories that will be with me for a while yet.