You know that feeling, when you think you’ve been somewhere, the situation feels familiar, similar things are happening and you are sure this has all happened before? That is my life right now. History is, to some extent repeating itself.

Flashback to 2011

In January, I entered a competition on Twitter. It was a time when I had decided that I wanted to get back into triathlon after 2 years out after my first sprint triathlon. The prize was a entry to either the New York triathlon, the Chicago Triathlon or the Escape from Alcatraz plus the flight. A holiday sounded a good idea and New York and Chicago sounded far less appealing than San Francisco. There. I had no idea what that meant. But hey, I never win anything in those kinds of competitions. Except, this time I did. The Escape from Alcatraz was far outside my comfort zone, particularly the swim. I had never swum in the ocean and open water swimming in general was (and still is) a mental challenge. I accepted the challenge: Alcatraz it was!

Fastforward to 2016

In January, I entered a competition I had seen on Twitter. It was a time when I had decided that I wanted to give mountain biking another go, after 5 years of uhming and ahming. The prize was entry to the XBionic Cup in Altopiano del Sole near Brescia in Italy, including travel and hotel, and XBionic kit. A holiday sounded like a good idea and I’ve never been to Brescia and its surrounds. I had no idea what that meant. But hey, I rarely win anything in those kinds of competitions. Except, this time I did! The XBonic Cup is far outside my comfort zone. I am no mountain biker and my off road skills are minimal (my last experience involved pulling over and waving everyone past when I got stressed out with people trying to pass me on narrow paths, then my bike got stolen). I accepted the challenge: XBionic Cup it is!

So what does that mean?

dave & me
Meeting David Hemming from XBionic to pick up my prize

On June 12th, I will be riding the XBionic Cup: a MTB marathon where participants can choose either a 42km route with 1550m of elevation or a 81km route with 3200m of elevation. In fact it is the longest MTB marathon in the Brescia region. The landscape is beautiful but challenging. I am used to riding on the canal tow path, such is the extent of my off-road riding. I own a MTB, but it is by no means suitable for riding a mountain enduro race and the tow path is not exactly challenging terrain. So this is far, far outside my comfort zone and I do not have much time to prepare for it either. The European Triathlon Championships in Lisbon kind of get in the way a bit. So the challenge is HUGE! MASSIVE! SCARY!

And because the challenge is huge, I have decided to connect it to some fundraising for two charities: the National Institute for Conductive Education and the Shakespeare Hospice. They are both local(ish) to where live and are doing some great work, although at very different ends of the life experience. Those who know me also know that I do not fundraise very often, only on the rare occasions when a very special challenge occurs, like this one, hence why I’ve called it the #pushbeyondchallenge.

In case there is any doubt, here is the elevation profile of the short loop:

XBionic Cup Altopiano del Sole short

And here are some impressions from the route straight from the Cup website:

Upping the stakes

To up the stakes a bit, I’ve decided to give you some control over the distance that I will be tackling. For now, I will be riding the short version (42km). Should donations surpass £1000 by the event date, I will attempt to ride the long distance. So please give generously to see me truly #pushbeyond. You can donate here. I appreciate your support and as they say, every little helps.

To whet your appetite, here is the elevation profile of the long route (81km):

XBionic Cup long course

To find out more about NICE or the Shakespeare Hospice click the links below

nice logo

NICE Charity

The Shakespeare Hospice


The Shakespeare Hospice


Doing the XBionic Cup means I cannot put in my now annual ‘rockstar’ appearance at the UK World Triathlon Series race, which will the year be in Leeds instead of London, but I think this is a different level of rockstardom. I am very excited about this new opportunity that will take my sport experiences to a whole new level. Over the coming weeks, I will share my preparation with you and am currently looking into a video diary and certainly video footage of the race. So watch this space, and please part with your pennies. Keep your eyes peeled on twitter for the hashtag #pushbeyondchallenge.

History reapating

So, there we go! History is repeating itself. From Alcatraz to Altopiano del Sole, from being a total swimming novice to being a total mountain bike novice, from taking on the challenge to swim across San Francisco Bay to taking on the challenge of a MTB marathon. I will say this: BRING IT ON and please be generous and donate to the #pusbyondchallenge to make me push far beyond my current limits.