Helen was one of the very first birthday challengers, she actually completed her challenge way before me back in 2013! Since Helen completed her challenge I have set up this website and finally interviewed Helen to find out more about it. Since Helen completed her challenge she has had a baby and moved to Australia for the year!

How did your birthday challenge come about and what did you do?
My good friend Sam first told me about the birthday challenge, and over a couple of glasses of wine we decided that I needed to have a challenge and so the barrage of crazy suggestions began!  My challenge ended up being to complete the London to Brighton British Heart Foundation bike ride. I could already ride a bike, but due to rather dodgy knees I had always struggled to cycle long distances, so training and building up to the race was going to be the main challenge.

Did you have to do any training/learning to master your challenge?
Yes plenty!  Early on after accepting the challenge I honestly didn’t think I could actually do it, but my husband was keen to do the race too so we pencilled “bike ride weekends” into the diary and increased the distance we rode each trip.  We cycled in such horrendous windy, rainy weather that we hoped this would prepare us for the day!

Were there any moments when you questioned if you were able to do it?
Yes every practice ride!! I found that I really wasn’t very fit and was worried I’d have to get off and push at every hill, but the main limiting factor was my painful knees.

Helen, hubby Dan & Dan's dad

Helen, hubby Dan & Dan’s dad Graham en route

What was the hardest bit? 
The hardest bit on the day was the dreaded Ditchling beacon (a climb of 135m) I surprised myself by cycling up the first part of it, then like the hundreds around me had to succumb to walking.  However the worst part was my hip decided it couldn’t really cope with this and I ended up dragging my left leg up the mahoosive hill in agony. However the views from the top were (just about) worth it!

And what was your favourite bit?
My favourite bit was the atmosphere of the whole day, it was absolutely amazing!  There were so many people cheering all the riders on as well.  Also raising money for such a worthy cause was fantastic.

How did it feel when you accomplished your challenge?
Absolutely amazing.  I thought back to when I first started training for the ride and couldn’t believe I’d actually completed it!  A secondary benefit was that I was the fittest I had been in a long time and felt good for it! We also raised £400 for the British Heart Foundation.

Do you have any more challenges in the pipeline or something else to tick off the bucketlist?
I would like to climb all of the big hills in the Lake District.  I’ve climbed a lot of the smaller ones but the larger ones would be a challenge for me.  As we’re not in the country at the moment I have set a time frame of ‘the next few years’, but have roped the hubby in again to start training while we’re away!

And, this is one of my favourite bits..would you like to issue a birthday challenge to anyone?
Errrmmmm…. having a  think about that one.  Leanne, ready for another??

Anything else you would like to tell me?
The birthday challenge is obviously something that’s going to, well, challenge you, so people may be resistant to accepting the challenge at first and need a gentle shove in the right direction.  However once the details are sorted and there’s a goal to aim for it really motivates you to achieve something you didn’t think you could, then you’re left with a massive sense of accomplishment!


A well deserved rest on Brighton beach!

If you fancy taking on your own birthday challenge and getting that massive sense of accomplishment that Helen felt then have a look here.

The London to Brighton cycle ride cover 54 miles of often hilly terrain as you make your way from Clapham to the sea. You can do it independently or as part of an organised ride with a number of charities. The British Heart Foundation ride (which Helen did) takes place in June each year with around 28,000 cyclist taking part, this year (2015) is the BHF’s 40th year so what a great time to get involved! Have a look at the British Heart Foundations website for more information or look out for Helen in the highlights of 2013 video!