Bunny-hopping into the unknown will be worth the pain

Allan Muir, left, and The News deputy sports editor Rob Atkins. Picture: Allan Hutchings (060419-085)

Allan Muir, left, and The News deputy sports editor Rob Atkins. Picture: Allan Hutchings (060419-085)

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I would liken that kind of distance to swimming the Channel!

I’m not too sure what a pal of mine was attempting to do when he uttered those words in response to my revelation that I was going to cycle 205 miles for charity in just eight weeks time.

But the sentence struck fear into me – not least because I failed in my quest for a 10-metre badge at school.

To this day my trunks remain bare, not even remedial lessons in my teenage years could brighten them up.

The mate in question is the reason I am now addicted to life on two wheels – his support little more than 18 months ago saw me take my first few pedal strokes on the road.

Since his initial, terrifying response, he has offered some much-appreciated words of wisdom.

But he has to back me, right? He got me into this sport!

It’s fair to say my other friends were not quite as encouraging.

Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of good-luck wishes.

Each and every one dripping with sarcasm and a ‘rather you than me’ expression.

It’s a daunting challenge. No doubt.

But having toyed with the idea ever since Allan Muir – the development director at the Association for Glycogen Storage Disease (AGSD-UK) – emailed me in January, I have finally decided to give it a crack.

I was contemplating just offering my media assistance to the Droxford-based charity’s cause until I watched Davina McCall’s inspirational 500-mile Sport Relief triathlon.

And then viewing AGSD-UK’s Hope In The Genes film on YouTube this week only fortified my determination to take up the challenge.

I’m not too proud to say the stories of Qasim, Jesse, Archie and Phoenix in the footage brought a tear to my eye.

I don’t have any children myself, so can only imagine how tough it is to see your son or daughter suffer with a Glycogen Storage Disease.

But if pedalling a few miles will make life easier for just one family, that has to be worth all the pain and suffering in the saddle.

And believe me, there will be pain and suffering.

The furthest I have ever ridden in one day is 84 miles and that left me a broken man.

So tackling 205 miles – or 330km – is not a step into the unknown, it’s a giant bunny-hop!

But over the next eight weeks I will bring all the highs and lows of my training to you with a diary on these pages.

Prior to the challenge on Sunday, June 8, I will seek advice from experts in sports science and cycling itself in my bid to get up to speed.

I will also chart all of my rides, beginning with round two of the Portsmouth Duathlon Series tomorrow morning.

I am teaming up with talented runner David Brawn, my sports desk colleague at The News, for the event which will see me take on the 15km cycle leg along Southsea seafront.

It’s a drop in the ocean compared to my epic goal but it should be lots of fun.

So if you fancy an early morning stroll to blow away your hangover, come down and cheer us on.

If not, find out more about AGSD-UK at agsd.org.uk or click here to watch the Hope In The Genes film.

And if you fancy backing me in my charity challenge and supporting this worthy cause, log on and make a donation at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/robatkins

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