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Simon’s Challenge- D-day minus 2 weeks

May 18, 2011

By Simon Cripps

Chief Executive, Dorset Wildlife Trust

Simon Cripps at Brooklands Farm Nature Reserve

I shall soon be attempting the ’42 to do’ challenge which is to cycle around the 42 DWT nature reserves and therefore around the whole of this beautiful county.  I will aim to cover the 260 miles in around 7 days (30 May – 5 June).  Nowadays you often hear of septuagenarians hopping to Tibet in a badger outfit, so I would like to stress what a challenge this really is.  It requires me (though a keen cyclist and member of the Dorset Cyclists Network, having never cycled more than 12 miles in my life till last month), to cycle about 35 – 50 miles per day up hill and down Dorset dales.  I’m on the mature side of 50 and the wrong side of 0.1 tonnes in weight.  I will be doing this without the aid of a defibrillator and, without adding false jeopardy, I think it’s about 60:40 that I’ll make it. I will be meeting some interesting people on the way and will each evening (assuming insanity doesn’t set in) write a blog with some thoughts, pictures and short videos of the adventure so that you can follow me around.  You are also welcome to join me either to cycle, wave or just plain laugh.

I know so many of you will be wondering and worrying about how my training is going now that its only 2 weeks to D-day (sarcasm doesn’t work well on internet).  It seems that when you admit that you’re going to do a feat beyond the realms of human endurance, loads of people come out of the woodwork to tell you how they do the same every weekend.  It’s like a scene from Dr Who: there’s a parallel universe that most people never see, filled with extreme activity and athletes who must be changing into their alter egos in the nearest phone-box. Nevertheless, despite this demoralising plethora of irritatingly fit and keen people, they have been giving me advice.

Corfe Castle looms out as buzzards circle

Corfe Castle looms out as buzzards circle

The advice though useful and excellent also backfires as it makes the trip even more daunting.  Colleagues at work have been telling me about their own super-human training regimes and lending me some pretty specialist literature I thought would be restricted to elite endurance athletes.  Whilst in my mind’s eye I see myself as a cross between David Attenborough and Steve Redgrave I’m more Garfield meets Clarkson.  I now know the difference between isotonic and hypertonic drinks, the optimal fat: carb: protein ratios to eat, saddle positions, brake calliper adjustments, optimal drinking regimes.  If I had any friends, I won’t soon.

On Sunday I thought Dorset was finally ready to witness some quality cycling and for me to check that the county’s nature was up to standard.  I thought I knew the county pretty well but it’s always got surprises in store.  What a fantastic route the National Cycle Route 2 (NCR2) is.  It follows the Frome valley along quiet lanes with thankfully negligible inclines from where I joined it in Dorchester to Wareham.  From the rolling farmland it heads SE onto the heaths at Arne emerging at Corfe Castle, calling at Scotland no less on the way.  From Corfe I lost the signs, a premonition of things to come in a couple of weeks, and headed up the ridge to Studland.  On crossing the ferry to Sandbanks, had I the energy or the inclination I’d have waved to the folks on Brownsea, but to be honest by that time a mixture of dehydrated insanity and malnourished fatigue was setting in so it was back to Poole to let the train take the strain home.

Poole Harbour despite altitude sickness

Poole Harbour despite altitude sickness

Lessons learned then: don’t send out sponsorship emails till you know you won’t be embarrassed, Tesco’s flapjacks probably don’t cut it on their own as endurance fodder (but frankly who cares as it’s the only time I’m allowed to eat them), find a way to alter the laws of physics to make sure the whole circular route is slightly downhill, and lastly, if you have to do anything so foolish as 42todo in one shot, then Dorset has to be the best place in the world to do it.

The last time I asked for sponsorship was for a 100m swim.  No that wasn’t last year, it was about 1970 when I was 10 years old.  Forty years later I have an opportunity to ask again, but for something a little more challenging. DWT has set up a Dorset Wildlife Fund to help us continue to look after the wildlife and natural places of Dorset for another 50 years.  This Fund is likely to prove invaluable in this hard economic climate.  Have a look on our website to see all the different things DWT does to help keep Dorset the fantastic natural county it is, despite the many challenges and threats.

Your sponsorship would be greatly appreciated and of huge value to DWT.  I’m hoping for 10p or even 5p per reserve per person, though feel free to let the 0s fly off your keyboard.

All the best,

Simon Cripps

Chief Executive, Dorset Wildlife Trust

If you would like to help Simon with his mammoth challenge, please donate by clicking here

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