Brighton resident and mother of three, Heidi Degen, recently ventured out of her comfort zone to embark on a life-changing journey.
In June last year, she set out on a 14-day bike ride across the United Kingdom, covering a distance of 1600 kilometres.
Heidi said she had been planning the adventure for years but it wasn’t until a conversation with a friend that she finally took the plunge.
“I commented to a friend that I’d really love to do the ride and she simply said, ‘Why don’t you?’,” Heidi said. “And so I phoned England, booked my spot on the supported group tour and that was the beginning of one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
The ride, known as LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) took Heidi from the southernmost point of mainland Britain to the almost northernmost point.
“I had 14 days of sunshine and absolutely perfect weather conditions – absolutely unheard of for the UK,” Heidi said. “The scenery was out of this world spectacular.
“The joy of cruising down a massive hill hitting 70 to 80 kilometres an hour occasionally definitely was a buzz, if not a little stupid for an amateur.
“There were multiple 130-kilometre days with really high elevation and having to ride day after day was a real challenge as I’d never done a multi-day ride before.”
Heidi said it was hard being away from her family.
“One day I was having a really big wobble of self-confidence and my 12-year-old daughter said simply to me on the phone, ‘Like you say to me mum, you just need to keep going, picture the end in your mind, the pain will be over soon and you’ll be so proud,’” she said. “To hear her repeat back one of life’s greatest lessons really made me feel like I had accomplished something good with her.”
When Heidi finally completed her journey, she took to Facebook to share her thoughts.
“I’m beyond grateful for a trip that has exceeded my expectations and has given me the gift of self-love like I’ve never experienced before,” she wrote. “A love and appreciation for myself that runs really, really deep.”
Heidi said the mental aspect of the ride far outweighed the physical challenge.
“The mind is incredibly powerful,” she said. “Through perseverance and belief that if you can, you can, anything is really possible.”