In the spring of 2013, I foolishly chose to ride my bike to Paris. A journey of 300 miles over four days. It was in response to a close family bereavement. Riding to raise money for two connected causes – Willen Hospice and for Chestnut Tree House. It was my way of trying to do something positive.
Against a backdrop of a number of unforeseen challenges, (gears, hills, wind and hail), I got the job done. Objective achieved. Fundraising target smashed. Cheques given. Tears, smiles and a back slappy celebration lunch.
It was perhaps natural that there followed a post ride Petit mort. You build up to something for a few months, then it happens. Then what? It was in the reflection time afterwards that I realised how much I had learnt and gained. And as befits the digital age, there were some things I wanted to share.
— Firstly doing good feels good. To be honest, I’ve also been a tiny bit of a cynic when it comes to good causes. I’ll admit that I’ve been one of those people who’s sat through an hour or two of Comic Relief, and not picked up the phone. It might have something to do with the Bono effect — multimillionaires urging you to give up your fivers for a cause always makes me feel a little queasy. Or the other view of why go through the bother of some ridiculous challenge, expect everyone to be impressed and give up their cash on the basis of something you choose to do. Why not cut out the effort and middle man and just give some money direct?
This ride has changed my thoughts on a lot of all that. I raised more money than I could have hoped to have done on my own. And there is no question that simply doing some good, any good, felt good.
— Secondly having a purpose is great. It’s something I’ve been playing round with for a number of years in my professional life. Could having some shared purpose, a noble cause, actually be a good for galvanising force for life and work? Something you can share, have those around you believe in, and give you a reason to get up in the morning.
In this instance the purpose of the ride for me, was simply to try and make me and the people involved feel a little better. But that purpose had a number of by-products, I got fit (ish) and my motivation for getting fit and putting in the work was far higher than if it had just being for my own needs and ends.
People also seemed moved by the story, and so gave far more to the cause and in greater numbers than if they had not felt empathy for the situation and shared my sense of purpose. When on the ride itself, even in the most extreme of conditions — my sense of purpose steeled me to the core, and meant there was simply no way I would ever give up at any stage.
Related to that, the last thing I learned is that facing a little adversity is good. It’s an amazingly energising, and strengthening process when you look a little adversity in the eye, take it head on and and conquer.