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MAN RIDE 2017.

 

If The Man Ride were a stage race, today would have been a transfer stage. Long ks (no more than previous days, they just feel longer now). Relatively flat (relative only to the 3000 plus metres we did on days one and two). Not as scenic (the ratio of castles and sheep was down considerably). And it began and ended with McDonald's (Team Sky would be embarrassed by our marginal gains).

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The pattern of our days has been pretty consistent. Knockout 50 or 60 before the first break. Hopefully the same again before lunch. Break in the afternoon. Get home for tea. Stimulating your mind for that length of time – a total 10 hours or more on the bike – can be tedious. Difficult even. You have all the time in the world to think about things, and no time at all. You have bountiful moments to spark conversation, but often it's easier just to concentrate on yourself. On getting through.

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But we're here to start a conversation, so you seek out mental stimulation or it finds you along the way. Today, it was Julian, who, intrigued by all the bikes in his small, seaside town, saddled up to our van with a thick Welsh accent that barely the Brits among us could understand and opened up a conversation.

 

Sporting an ill-fitting, full team kit some five years past its sell-by date, a whistle – apparently, a sure fire way to stop pedestrians in their tracks – and a Strava record of some 11,000 miles per year, because that afforded him the opportunity to "eat like Lord" he kept us amused for a good 15 or so minutes. Julian then kindly chaperoned us out of town. So, if you ever in Mumbles be sure to look him up. Great guy. Long flowing locks. You'll know him when you see him.

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If lunch was about Julian, then the afternoon was about Juliette. From France, she's been a friend of Black Sheep for all of about five weeks. We met through Instagram – because that what's you do these days – and has since travelled practically the length and breadth of Europe with us. We're not sure she completely understands us or our ways but, for the most part, she seems to enjoy herself. Even when she's hurting.

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Defying her better judgment, she agreed to take part in The Man Ride at short notice. She certainly hasn't sold herself short. Having not surpassed 130k in a single ride before rocking up in Wales, she has gallantly got herself through 600km without so much as a Merde.

"The whole ride is a two-way battle. A battle against the elements. The kilometres. And a battle against your ego. " - Juliette
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Internally, though, she says she has battled mentally. "That first day. That was so hard. At 150km all I wanted to do was get in the van. I have never been that cold and wet. All I wanted to be was warm, but I said to myself: 'Juliette if you can't do this. If you can't complete the first day, then you cannot call yourself a cyclist. You cannot say you're going to do The Man Ride and then jump in the van the first day'."

She pushed through. As she has every day, but she confesses. "The whole ride is a two-way battle. A battle against the elements. The kilometres. And a battle against your ego. Because your ego is the only thing that stops you from getting in the van. But either way, you are the winner. And you always have control."

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MEET THE PEOPLE AND FOLLOW THE JOURNEY OF THE MAN RIDE UK EVERYDAY IN THE LEAD UP TO THE MAN RIDE DAY ON OCTOBER 1.

THE CHAOS COLLECTION IS A SPECIAL RELEASE IN CONJUCTION WITH THE MAN RIDE. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND THE PROMOTION OF THE MAN RIDE. PREVIEW RELEASE AVAILABLE AT THE MAN RIDE DAY ON OCT 1. STRICTLY LIMITED ONLINE RELEASE OCT 4.

 

JOIN THE RIDE. JOIN THE CONVERSATION