Sue Karran talks about conquering her fears and riding hundreds of miles for charity.
I have always been quite a confident person, who just says ‘yes’ to things and then thinks about them later! In January 2013, Straumann asked me to sponsor their six-day 600-mile charity cycle ride from their head office in Basel, Switzerland, to their UK head office in Crawley, West Sussex. I said yes to the sponsorship, but also signed up for the ride… I had ridden a bike as a child… how difficult could it be! Most people I spoke to were amazed. ‘You’re doing what? – Are you crazy?’ I bought a road bike and cycled most days, kept up the training, focused on my diet, lost masses of weight and between 19th – 26th September I completed the 600 miles in 6 days with 24 other mad cyclists and in the process we raised over £30,000 for charity.
In 2016 I’m planning on doing it again, but this time across northern Spain and just 450 miles in 5 days.
When I began cycling the first thing I had to conquer was my fear. I kept remembering stories of bikers flattened by trucks and had gory visions with me in the starring role. I live in Central London and the traffic can be terrifying, but I found that riding my bike really suited my city lifestyle and as London has a growing network of dedicated bike lanes I am now finding that there is absolutely no reason for me to use my car on a daily basis.
My riding has also had positive effects on other parts of my life. For one thing, riding has made me more active, I am not as thin as I would like to be, but I eat what I want (in moderation, of course) and am in the best shape of my life and I find myself spending much more time outdoors, even in the wintertime. There are a number of health benefits to cycling. Apart from being really fun, riding a bike builds strength, stamina, and muscle tone; improves cardiovascular health; burns calories; boosts your metabolism; improves coordination; and reduces stress. Cycling for just a few minutes per day can have a significant effect on a person’s health and wellbeing.
Get the right gear
If you do not already own a bike, take time to choose the right bike for you. The right bicycle is everything. I started out with a bike that was too small for me and this proved to be an expensive mistake. Before spending thousands on a bike, my advice would be to get a professional bike fit; it will make all the difference to the quality of the experience. The second most important piece of gear is a helmet. Your brain is precious. Like bikes, there are several different styles of helmet. While the safety factor is the most important, you should also pick a helmet that goes with your style and is comfortable, because, let’s face it, that way you’ll be more likely to wear it.
To ride any distance, clip pedals are a must, but having your feet directly connected to your bike can be very daunting and requires practice. I have fallen off many times and looked ridiculous because I forgot to clip my foot out of my pedal, but over time you get used to it and the benefits are enormous if you are riding long distances.
Another important part of overcoming fear is to know your body and your limitations. Don’t try to ride ten miles or tackle a steep hill on your first time out. That will just discourage you, put you at risk of injury, and reinforce your fears. The more you ride, the stronger and more comfortable you will get, but you don’t want to risk an injury in the meantime. Build your endurance and stamina gradually and always listen to your body. However, it is also important to believe in yourself and believe in what you can achieve.
Doing it for charity… Cap D’Adge to San Sebastian
In September 2016, when we set off for the third intercontinental Straumann Charity Bike Ride, I’m not aiming to break any records. I will be happy to be part of the ‘slow’ group who leave early every morning and arrive at the hotel last every evening. As last time I’m sure I will find that a little belief, a lot of desire, and to just get on my bike each morning and pedal, without worrying about the journey ahead will be the best approach.
Each of the 47 riders are being asked to raise £1,000 sponsorship for Bridge2 Aid, the charity that we will be supporting. According to a Bridge2Aid report, 75% of the world’s population do not have access to a dentist and it is their charitable aim to provide emergency dentistry and pain relief to those who need it most, as well as make a lasting change through training. Empowering local people to improve their own lives over the long-term, Bridge2Aid trains rural-based Health Workers in developing nations, providing them with the skills and resources needed to deliver emergency dental treatment in their communities. So far, Bridge2Aid has trained over 400 Health Workers creating safe, sustainable access to treatment for over 4 million people where previously there was none. www.bridge2aid.org
If you have been inspired and would like to make a donation visit the Straumann Charity Bike Ride JustGiving Page
To donate to Sue via Text. Text SUE54 followed by £5 or £10 to 70070
Familiarise yourself with the reason why the Straumann Bike Ride 2016 is taking place. Straumann UK MD Stephen Booth visited Tanzania in February, and you can read about his day to day experience here
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