After a year without riding a bike and fresh from running the Virgin Money London Marathon in April, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes is taking on her next challenge for charity, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.
A new event on the roster of this year’s Prudential RideLondon festival of cycling, Dame Kelly is taking on the ride in the hope it will allow her to get back on the bike more and aid her long-term fitness.
Launched in 2013, Prudential RideLondon is the world’s greatest festival of cycling and takes place on the weekend of July 30 and 31.
The 46-year-old ran this year’s London Marathon in an impressive three hours and 11 minutes, despite admitting that her training was far from ideal.
And in a similar vein Dame Kelly will now take on the 46-mile cycle ride having not ridden a bike for more than a year.
She knows it will hurt, but she said the distance, less daunting that the established 100-mile sportive, was ideally suited to novice and recreational cyclists.
“The hook for me was the fact that it is 46 miles, it doesn’t seem too daunting for a beginner, 100 definitely would be for me,” she said.
“Like in running, there are thousands and thousands of people that go out on the bike just to feel good, to train, to be part of a group, to be part of a challenge.
“Sometimes, to keep going and to have an exciting part of that, you need a goal.
“So if anyone’s still thinking, what should I do? Then this is a perfect one for people who have been cycling but haven’t set a challenge – set the challenge, go for it.
“I’m a little bit nervous about it because I’ve never started off a big race with lots of people effectively in my way – I’ll probably need lots of space but it should be quite fun.
“I want that challenge though and it will be nice to go into that cycling world, which I’m not really in at the moment.”
Dame Kelly announced her decision to participate in the event at her own Cafe 1809 – her race number in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games – in Hildenborough, Kent.
The ‘Pavilion’ room of her culinary venture is decked out in sporting equipment with bikes, old and new, hanging from chains on the wall and ceiling while running spikes remind punters of Dame Kelly’s illustrious history on the track.
Back issues of Rouleur magazine are also dotted around the room and the former athlete said she has targeted the ever-growing cycling market, wanting to provide an idyllic rest-stop on their rides around the Garden of England’s country lanes.
In Cafe 1809’s 18-month existence it has already acquired a loyal cycling clientele and Dame Kelly is intending to tap into that knowledge base in preparation for next month’s ride.
“I speak to all the cyclists that come in here after spending hours and hours on their bike, and here I am deciding to take part in a bike ride, when I haven’t been my bike for over a year,” added the former British Army physical training instructor.
“I’ve put into my mindset that I believe I can do 46 miles, I just need to do more training so I can get used to the bike and some more of the technical aspects of it.
“I know I’ll be in pain after it, like I am after most things, because I tend not to train as much as I should these days.
“But I hope that over the next four weeks, by going out with some people, getting a bit more information about how to ride, using the gears properly, making sure I’m efficient, then I can enjoy the ride itself.”
The decision to take on the ride is the latest in Dame Kelly’s year of challenges in which she hopes to raise £50,000 for each of five charities close to her heart – The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Hospice in the Weald, Myeloma UK, Pickering Cancer Centre and Mind UK
She is now aiming to use the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 as a catalyst for an increase in cycling in her life, after she stopped participating in duathlons more than a year ago, and said the sport is a great release from life’s stresses and strains.
“Cycling allows me to get out and just feel a bit free. I am so busy, like a lot of people are, I am juggling balls and that becomes quite stressful, as well as exciting,” she said.
“But when I’m out on my bike I just love it, I live in the countryside and it is a beautiful place to walk around, but on the bike you get further and see places that you would not normally see.
“From now onwards I hope that cycling will become a bigger part of my fitness regime, so that I can continue to run.”
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 takes place on Sunday July 31 2016. For more information visit www.PrudentialRideLondon.co.uk