Question time with Lisa Russell

Favourite part of the California Bike Challenge?

Wow, that’s really hard - I have to say that all parts of the California Bike Challenge are great!  Not only is it a tough challenge (I know that biking in California sounds easy, I promise it’s not!), both physically – cycling up some major hills, chaffing, the heat but also it’s mentally challenging – will I be fit enough, what will the people be like etc.?  Actually the favourite part of the bike challenge for me, was seeing people at the beginning arriving at the airport in London being timid, not knowing each other, and then seeing the friendships develop throughout the trip, and the sense of achievement when the group as a whole cross the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, these memories stay with you!

The team

Most interesting animal you saw on the trip?

Can I say the Lycra animals, he he!  Well in all seriousness, the last California Bike Challenge I did in September we saw a number of animals (no bears), but my favourite was an owl flying next to me when I was cycling, it was like he wanted to take part in the trip, mind-blowing.

What would your top training tip be to prepare for the California Bike?

To take training  for the event seriously.  It’s 5 full days in the saddle and your legs might be ok, but your bottom will not!  I think that training doesn’t need to be daunting, in fact it should be fun.  You need to remember it isn’t a race and there are no prizes for getting into camp first, I know from my own experience that helping someone (by even just talking to them) who is struggling gives you a better sense of achievement than coming in first.  Get out on the bike and practice using gears – if you can get your gears right then that’s half the battle.  The right equipment too – cycling shorts are a must and a piece of kit that I would definitely invest a bit of money in.  Ultimate Challenges supply a fantastic training plan when you sign up.


Where in the world is on your tick list?

California is definitely right up there.  After the California Bike Challenge, I realised that America has so much to offer, I would like to go back and visit some more of the state with my family.  The nicest thing about the bike challenge is that people aren’t just limited to staying just for the event, they can extend their trip afterwards.

Best value piece of kit you own?

Ear plugs.  One of the nicest things about the California Bike Challenge is that you camp which is very different to many cycling challenges, as people usually stay in hotels.  Camping makes the challenge special, it’s a real adventure, but yes, ear plugs can be a must if you’re next to a person who snores.

If you were on a desert island and you could have 3 items…

  • My family
  • My bike
  • A boat :)

Anyone seeking to try a Charity Challenge but anxious-what would your advice be?

Just go for it, break down all of the elements down into bite-sized pieces.  I always say that challenge events are like a fork – one prong is the fundraising, another prong is the training and the last prong is the trip itself.  The hardest part of the challenge usually is the fundraising, and/or training, but if you get a plan in place it usually helps.  The staff at Ultimate Challenges are there to help and will assist as much or as little as people need.  We love talking about the trips, fundraising, training etc. as we’ve all been there and have a real passion and drive for the trips to success and raise as much money as possible for charity.  We can send all the relevant information to help.

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