This March, I'm going to be cycling 450km in South Africa to raise money for the international development organisation Transaid.
Some of you reading this may remember I did a similar thing in June 2015, cycling across Tanzania for Transaid. That event, I raised over £6,000 and collectively we exceeded £140,000, which at the time was a record amount for one of Transaid's fundraising events.
I have already passed my 2015 tally as I close in on my 2017 personal target of £7,000, and the group of 40 transport and logistics industry professionals travelling to South Africa - which is larger than the Tanzania group - have already beaten that record collective target before a wheel is turned, a tyre is punctured, a chain comes off, or a lycra vest is pulled over a bloated middle-aged body.
Cycle South Africa is further than Cycle Tanzania (450km vs. 415) and the climbs are greater (in Tanzania we ascended 5.2km over five days). So this challenge should be harder in both measures.
Training has gone well - I purchased a new bike just after Christmas to encourage me to get the miles in and this has really helped me to get into the saddle more. I cycle every day to/from work anyway (just a level 10-mile round trip) and I have added longer and longer rides at the weekends with climbs built in to help build up my stamina.
Recently, I joined Transaid's Florence and Harry (I call him Bradley) on a ride across mixed terrain from Greenwich to Gravesend (pictured). We got lost and clocked up 60 miles, and in the process I destroyed the front brake assembly and broke 2 spokes, so it could have gone better. Importantly, I didn't break my body, so I'm certain I'll be in fine fettle for the Challenge and will not let down my brilliant sponsors.