Following three months of training rides in the Surrey Hills, circuits of Richmond Park on a Sunday morning and spinning classes, it was finally time to fly to Portugal and begin my pedElle journey from Porto to Lisbon. An epic 500k cycling challenge over 3 days with a total of 7,000m ascent to raise money for Coram, an amazing childrens charity.
With trepidation and excitement I set off on the first morning with my fellow 'pedEllers', 43 of us in total. Our first day consisted of 152km and a total of 3,274m ascent through a variety of terrains and landscapes, from lush countryside to mountainous peaks. As a non-cyclist (having only bought my bike in January this year!) the thought of climbing 1,100m in one stage was scary. However I found out that as long as the hill is not steep I secretly quite enjoy cycling up them! The sense of achievement when we reached the summit was amazing, as was the decent down the mountain!
Day two was our longest day covering 176km, however the beautiful Portugal countryside, amazing scenery and friendly welcome everywhere we went definitely distracted everyone from the long distance! We arrived into Leiria in time for a quick change and then out for a relaxed and well earnt dinner.
The final day was 168km and again we cycled through beautiful countryside but in blazing sunshine and with temperatures of around 30 degrees. We encountered our first hill of the day at the Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros where we had a 5km climb, with every now and then a short and very sharp gradient to test my (by now very tired) legs! The second hill of the day was an incredibly tough climb, which in places reached a gradient of 14% and was brutal in the afternoon sun. I have to confess I did walk part of the hill when it was at its steepest, as my legs refused to continue pedalling! I eventually made it to the top and was very very pleased to know that was our last major climb of the day! From there it was a final 35km run in to the beautiful city of Lisbon and the welcome site of the finish line and our loved ones!
pedElle was one of the toughest challenges I have ever undertaken and the founder Jennifer Ross of Tibbalds said it had been "the hardest pedElle ever", but I loved it! It was an amazing experience, I met so many great people who I know I will keep in touch with and I raised over £1,500 for a superb charity. Would I do it again....... yes most definitely and I've already signed up for the CBRE 100k ride in June!
Photos by Matt Alexander / Club Peloton