It was my birthday the other day. Every year, on or near my birthday, I go on an epic bike ride. To paraphrase a terrible energy drinks company, cycling gives me wings!

Two years ago, I rode to my parents and back. A 180 mile round trip. It was a bit further than I’d ever done before, and also the hottest day of the year. I also decided that this was the day to start a juice diet. Bad combination! I ended up on a train 20 miles from the end.

174What I really wanted to tell you about was last year’s ride. The weather could not have been more different. It never rains on my birthday, but this was the day after and it was tipping down. The temperature had also dropped to under 10ºC. On the cards was a fairly hilly 100 mile ride around the Cotswolds with about 250 other riders.

Due to there being so many riders, we left in waves. The first group of 50 got ready. I sat it out, surely the rain would die off soon. I went to buy some gloves from the mobile cycle store and missed the second wave. The rain was now getting heavier. I took a deep breath, got into the funnel for the third wave to leave. I was soaked to the skin before even crossing the start line.

It was wet. And cold. And hilly. As the miles ticked by, the group I was with got smaller and smaller, until eventually I was by myself. I arrived at the first feed station and decided to plough on, I didn’t want to stop and get really cold. I did the same at the second feed station and soldiered on to the end, having covered the entire 100 mile course without stopping.

I rounded the last bend came into the finish straight and crossed the line. There were two stewards waiting and an empty car park, with only a handful of cars left in it.

What was going on? Had I rode really slowly? How could everyone have got round the course before me? I felt utterly empty, dejected and destroyed inside. I turned to the stewards, tears welling up.

“Where is everyone?”

“Oh you’re the second one back. Most people jacked it in after 20 miles and went home. We can pack up now!”

I was a man transformed! Hard as nails! Total badass!

Don’t let the world knock you back and keep ploughing on, whatever the weather! You will always do the very best you can, and sometimes, just sometimes you will be truly amazing.