October 3, 2016
It’s been a few days since I finished, I’m now back at work and normal life has resumed. The past five weeks have been quite an experience, certainly one I won’t forget in a while. You’ve probably read it all before but I might as well give another summary along with some more info!
The plan was to ride from San Fran to New York, 3200 miles in 4 weeks. I wanted to replicate a charity bike ride my father had done some 20 years earlier. I chose to fundraiser for two charities, Action on hearing Loss (because I’m deaf) and CLIC Sargent (because my mother had cancer), my aim was to raise £10k.
T-Shirts are here!!!!! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
It’s mental now to think that I only started cycling a year before the ride. Once the ride was announced a common question would be, “what’s the furthest you’ve cycled”. I wasn’t a cyclist and I hadn’t rode a bike for maybe 7+ years, I didn’t even own a bike! I was out of shape, drinking far too much and probably a bit overweight. One of the best decisions I made was get myself a trainer from week one. I would have just hammered myself on the bike but he got me started on strength stuff, doing squats and such, to help strengthen my very weak legs. I can’t explain how important this was, the core strength was fundamental to me riding a bike for that amount of time.
Some pain on the turbo. Fifth and final set of 7 mins riding in HR zone 155-165. #volerocycling #rideforthechild A video posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
I had some dreadful experiences in training, take January for instance where I was struggling so bad with my back pain on the bike that I swam for a month. I was so worried as I couldn’t do more than 20-30 miles with my back in agony, how on earth was I meant to cycle America. I didn’t tell my trainer but I passed out a few times on the bike, I would hammer myself to the ground and have absolutely nothing left. Amazingly it wasn’t until April when I rode my first 100 miles, a mere 5 months before I was expected to do 28 on the bounce! I was absolutely bricking it, but my trainer was calm about it, I couldn’t understand it. If I had a night out or slacked I would kill myself in training after. For the last two months I got up at 5am and rode for 3 hours before work, 4000ft uphill in only 30 miles, I couldn’t walk some days. However everything seemed to fall in place in the last couple of months, it was impressive to watch my body adapt. It has to be said that my training was harder than the actual ride.
This sums my day up well! A video posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
In addition to my trainer I met so many other fantastic cyclists. One of the best things I did was follow @ukcyclechat on Twitter, it’s basically a twitter group for cyclists. I asked the most ridiculous questions – I knew absolutely nothing – but yet the community would always be friendly and helpful. I found so much inspiration and the friendly rivalry spurs you on every day! They did a weekly Strava challenge and I would constantly think about when I made it onto this leaderboard, alongside some awesome cyclists who are doing amazing miles every week! I spent hours on that twitter account and none were wasted! Highly recommended!
LADIES!!! Ive not had a hair – or beard – for a year since I’ve been training! I’ve also always had long hair to hide my hearing aids. However, it’s all gone now!! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
Off the bike I put a lot of effort into marketing and RFTC generated a huge amount of interest. I was featured in various national and regional newspapers, including the Guardian. I was showcased on dozens of websites, including the UK’s biggest bike shop, Evans. My proudest moment was appearing on BBC Two’s See Hear, the fifth longest running BBC programme. To date the website has attracted almost 40k viewers and was reaching as far as Asia. I have many people to thank for all of this but special thanks to Emily from Action On Hearing Loss, who sorted some amazing leads.
Top of the Rockies. 6h 20 mins climb! 68 mile! @volerocycling @actiononhearingloss A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
The ride itself was absolutely unreal. There are too many memories to mention, hopefully the individual posts describe these in more detail. My favorite places were the Nevada Desert, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian mountains (I like mountains). It’s hard to describe these places and pictures can’t fully capture your surroundings, they’re just unreal and you feel so alive cycling through them.
Day 16 done, wind gone thankfully! Wet and cold, much like the UK, but the fastest ride of my life. 121miles in 6h 40min! Will try get blog up tonight. I’m on day 17 now and been chased by dogs 3 times this morning! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
New state!! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
It was absolutely roasting some days, reaching temperatures of 40 degrees. However I have to admit I am well suited to the heat. I felt really comfortable riding in those temperatures so long as I was hydrated. As we got further East I was quite cold some days even though it was still relatively hot. The lads in the van – and Jordan when he rode with me – were sweating buckets (and getting naked)!
This is what the lads get up to whilst I’m riding. A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
I think I’ve actually put weight on during the ride, I was eating – and drinking – constantly. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 4/5 meals a day and I would snack like a monster in-between. I ate until I could eat no more and on the days where I didn’t eat enough after crawling into bed, I would struggle badly the next day. Moral of the story, EAT!
The mosquitoes were a problem for all of us, especially when it was in a area that rubs on the bike. I got some on my feet and groin area and they were quite painful. Our van was full of them and we spent hours killing them. They were often full of blood when we hit them, makes you cringe a little knowing they’ve been sucking on you.
Day 10 done! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
The most painful parts of my body were not my legs, but probably my hands and feet. The palms of my hands were so sore from leaning on the bars, they are still very tender now. The soles of my feet were so numb from constantly pushing on the pedals, especially uphill. In addition they would swell in the heat, which multiplied the pain. I would bathe them in cold water on my food breaks. I was cramping badly in the last week, having to ride for hours with cramp. That was awful and I think my body was telling me I was reaching my limits, or maybe it wanted to punish me before the end!
Seen thousands of these crossing the country. I realise the large cities are more densely populated and I don’t know about those, but he has a huge following right across the USA. I’ve only seen ONE Hilary sign in almost 3000 miles, no exaggeration. #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
America itself was a huge eyeopener, I wrote about that here. I know the cities are bigger but crossing the country I seen only ONE Hilary sign, Trump seems to have a huge following across America. It will be interesting to see the results of the election!
Team photo! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
Day 27 of 28 – We’ve reached the East Coast! We’ve crossed the whole of America. Just a short ride into NY to finish tomorrow! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
Off the road the memories are priceless and I’m so grateful to my team, I moaned so much and they were brilliant for me all the way through. We had some truly amazing times mixed in with some tough times and plenty of beer, it was a proper lads trip. It’s crazy to think that we lived in that van for 4 weeks. I would love to tell you more, but what happened in the van, stays in the van!
Day 25 done!!!! #rideforthechild A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
HOLY f*%k!!! IT’S MASSIVE!!! A photo posted by Shane Prendergast (@rideforthechild) on
The ending was surreal and I was completely lost for words with so many people seeing me cross the line. We spent our final two days in NYC and it was brilliant, so too was the company!
I wasn’t confident about the ride, but I was even less confident about raising 10k! I initially thought it would be easy, but for every 500 emails I would get one negative reply, I had massively underestimated how hard it would be.
Millions of people are doing charity work, which makes it incredibly difficult to attract the attention of potential donors. Ten grand is a huge amount of money and requires a large amount of people to donate.
I did some good fundraising activities at work such as a Bootcamp and FIFA tournament, we raised around £1k there. I had some unreal single donations, some people were very generous indeed. The biggest event was my leaving party, a race day/night in my hometown Scarborough, which raised over £2000.
I was still a few thousand pound short when I started the ride but then it started to suddenly roll in and I hit my target of 10k in the second week, which gave me a huge confidence boost! The money has continued to roll in and is current at £11,700, I’m incredibly chuffed I raised that much. Thank you to everyone who donated, raising that amount meant more to me than completing the ride.
I’m not sure whether I would do anything like this again (although I got off the plane and the first thing my Dad said to me was, “Do you fancy riding Australia in 2 year”). I’m not sure I would be willing to sacrifice such a huge amount of my life again. You see so many people get the “bug” after their first event, but I’ve not caught it.
I’m going to stay fit and do some running and swimming and maybe a little bit of cycling! I’ve some weight to lose after all those cakes!
This is the end of the ride. I completed everything I set out to achieve and there are so many people to thank. I could say thanks until the cows come home and I will say it one last time. THANK YOU!
If you’re reading this and planning a ride yourself here are some of my thoughts….
- If you’re going in an RV, and taking a support team, it’s incredibly expensive. I totally underestimated how much it would cost. For example, the RV hire for 4 people was almost £6000.
- Be careful with the gradients, they can’t be compared to the UK. You might only have 3000ft to climb, which I might do in an hour in the UK, but in America they aren’t steep but go for miles. You are literally climbing for hours and hours and it really takes it out of you.
- These gradients will massively impact your speed, some days I could only manage 12-13mph when I wanted 15. Lets not get started on those bloody headwinds! This means I’m losing 10 miles every 5 hours, it really adds up!
- I only got around 12 hours of light and we decided as a team not to ride after dark. This might sound a lot but when you add in the hills, food stops etc it was a struggle to finish some days and I went until dark and then stopped short. Also bear in mind the time zones, you automatically lose an hour.
- Go easy, unless you’re in a race of course. My most successful day was my first, but I killed myself doing it. Just take your time and listen to your body, when I took it easy my body rewarded me.
- Nothing beats real food for energy. Bars and Gels are great but real food is better Also bear in mind that real food can be hard to find in the USA.
If you’ve any more questions feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or get me on twitter (@rideforthechild).