So you may ask how have I ended up taking on this challenge and what have I achieved so far in my preparations?
Well in March this year I went on a week long cycling holiday to Cuba and it was amazing. It reminded me that I’ve never set foot in South America (but loved Central America when I went there in early 2011) and that cycling is a superb way to see and experience places for real rather than through the window of a bus/coach/train. Maybe I didn’t realise it at the time but a seed was sewn in my mind.
Roll forward to late May and I took part in a work charity cycle from Munich, Germany to Trieste, Italy that took 90 CBRE employees, suppliers and friends/family across 400 miles of stunning terrain in 5 days also crossing Austria and Slovenia, and it was really amazing! So ironically I returned to London not inspired that such an incredible event could be organised and achieved by people from the company that I worked for, but instead that I needed to leave that company and go and do more of this type of thing. So after a few weeks of agonising I took the plunge and resigned. Ultimately I couldn’t justify not doing it. So I’m doing it…
After working my 3 months notice I left my job on Fri 6th Sept and since then have got on with planning and preparing for the Brazil cycle tour. I actually thought up the name Smudger’s Samba Soccer Stadium Cycle Safari during my last week at CBRE, clearly my mind was already wandering, but to be fair I had done a thorough job handover to my replacement by that time. In the first month of ‘freedom’ I’ve set up a spreadsheet that attempts to list out all of the numerous things I need to sort out before I leave in January, including set up a blog website (tick), begin to map out the route (tick), buy an indestructible touring bike (tick), start to learn Brazilian Portuguese (half tick), apply for tickets to follow England at the World Cup (tick), get out on the road bike to put some serious miles in (tick – I took part in the Birmingham to Cardiff stage of Michael Vaughan’s charity event Chance to Ride, and did a mini cycle tour in between Watford FC games versus Blackburn and Huddersfield where I covered 150 miles in distance but climbed 4,300 metres of vertical gain up hills!), and finally to try and select which charities to raise money for during my adventure (tick, I’m pretty certain the two will be Laureus Sport For Good Foundation and Watford FC’s Community Sports and Education Trust – sorry Mum, I’ll support the Celiac Disease Foundation in my next charity endeavour).
I first heard of Laureus (http://www.laureus.com/aboutus) and saw for myself the amazing impact that the opportunity to take part in sport can have on disadvantaged kids when in early 2012 I spent time volunteering in Sri Lanka at an incredible local charity called the Foundation of Goodness (http://www.unconditionalcompassion.org/whatwedo_sport.php) which was set up to support the local community in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. I then met several lovely and inspirational people who work for Laureus during Chance to Ride in Sept 2013 and on further investigation discovered that the charity supports sporting projects in both the UK and Brazil, so to my mind a perfect fit.
And then I also wanted to support a charity in my hometown of Watford and what better choice than Watford FC’s own charity (http://www.watfordfccsetrust.com/about) which does a similar type of sports-based work to Laureus but in the local communities in Hertfordshire and nearby London Boroughs.
I hope that all makes sense? Thanks for reading!