“Looking back on the challenge, the first few days were very clear and then it turns into a blur of rides, climbs and grit.” Read the story behind her journey of 771km to the top / by Jillian Frank

Accepting the challenge:
I decided to accept the challenge to push myself and to see if I could complete the 21 Tour stages in 23 days. I spoke with Asaf to set a distance goal and to keep myself motivated. Based on my prior performance we set a 500 kilometres goal.

I then told all of my friends and family that I was taking part in a Tour de France challenge – this was to make sure that I didn’t quit. Everyone needs motivation to keep going.

Preparing for the challenge:
I checked my calendar to see if there were any days that I would not be able to ride and started planning my rides around my work and personal schedule. There are 13 bikes in the room and I knew that I needed to reserve my rides in advance to ensure that I could do all 21 stages. I was ready to go and reach my goal!

The challenge:
Looking back on the challenge, the first few days were very clear and then it turns into a blur rides, climbs and grit.

The First week: It felt like my normal workout routine only with more cycling. There were several strong cyclists ahead of me and this was the outcome I was expecting. As the first week continued, I continued to ride each stage and do my best. By simply showing up everyday, I had rose to the the top five. Asaf mentioned that I could do a double session on the second Saturday of the challenge (about 60-65km). because I had missed one of the days in the week, I decided to go for it.

I believe this was the turning point in my journey.

The first double session was a weekend class, which meant that I would be on the bike for almost two hours. My husband supported me on the ride and told me I was crazy and he was proud of me. When I completed that Saturday morning ride, I knew I could do doubles during the week as well and exceed my original 500km mark.

The second week, I continued on my schedule, I didn’t take the two rest days and threw in an extra double or two. Barbara encouraged me to take an extra class or two pointing out that I might not be able to ride to the top of the leaderboard with one ride, but two rides would always produce a higher end result. This strategy put me in the lead position for the final week. I wanted to win and I had a network of people cheering me on; other club members and coaches, my family, friends and colleagues. They all knew that I was operating out of my comfort zone.

The final week I set an aggressive schedule. I was cycling everyday until the end and in order to win, I predicted I needed to do five doubles. I was simply trying to go to more rides than my competitors. The coaches gave me advice on how to have ‘rest days’ while still cycling 40 to 50k in a day. I cycled and cycled and cycled. On the final three days I could see the finish line and victory, I was happy and my legs had not given up on me.

There were lows on the journey; wondering if I maintain the schedule, an insatiable hunger, melt down Wednesday of the last week (I was ready to quit).

In the end, I won so much more than first place. I was stronger, more confident and I realised that going outside of my comfort zone only makes me stronger. People who had not spoken with me before wanted to know how I approach the Tour Challenge, others told me they were afraid of the cycling programme (SCC) in the club. This surprised me as I always felt welcome, even when I could not get my cycling shoes out of the clips for the first few weeks. I was a non-cyclist and now want to encourage everyone to come to class (read more reasons why here).

If you are afraid and want a cycling partner, I am in on most Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I’ll be on my favourite bike, number five.

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