Hints for getting you into skiing.

I’m currently sat join a ski chalet in Tinges, the french alps. Its been 20 years since I last skied but I love the mountains and I’m a real winter & snow baby so I was up for the challenge of throwing on the gear and getting out…

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Of course I took an hour lesson prior to turning up to get the feel for the ski’s, I’m not totally crazy! We took some time on day one to get up in to the mountains just on foot to get familiar with the lift systems, maps and to really get a feel for the mountains again.. QUE, daft adventure type photo..

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So where do I start, I guess it has to be with starting, with anything at any level make sure you do! You’ll never get out skiing unless you try. Start with the lessons at the local slope do the whole lot it will seriously improve your ski holiday when you do go!

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Forget the snow plough as soon as possible, I’m only now on day three but, wow it totally messes your skiing and ability to progress, also, it ruins your legs I mean distress them! Trust the edges man, they will hold, thats what they’re for!!

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Bottom & Knee’s into the hill, simple keep those turns coming. As I’ve learnt via Jana and practice I’d also say with making a turn keep your ankles together on the turn, thats made the most sense for me anyway, and as the Northerner in our shallot says, “speed is your friend”

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You will get used to the altitude, make sure you drink heaps of water and try no to have too many beers on the slopes either, yes a beer can loosen you up, but we all know loose lips skink ships…

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Get out with friends they will help you along the way and push your boundaries, make you a better skier!

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Gear, yes gear, don’t skimp on the gear, it can make and break your holiday. Staying warm and dry in the hills is so so important!

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To be taken as a generalisation, but, don’t be afraid to fail. On reflection I need to push much harder in most things I always play it too safe. Ive been told the worst thing that will happen is I’ll fall on my bum! Go hard and worry afterwards!

And for a final note, I love at how the little kids get throw into skiing out here and smash down these slopes. It makes me feel we wrap our kids up in cotton wool way too much in the UK.

Oh and on hill, it’s cool to be brighter than the next man, FACT…

Great British Adventures

I’m a flipping sucker for #britishadventures, I’ve been and will continue to promote and explore journeys and adventures on our British isles. We’ve so much to do and see packed in to these islands we call home, so today whilst on my walk to the office through the banking district in the heart of our capital city I decided to list out my ten #britishadventures to think about doing in 2016.

They’ll be based on time taken, seeing the most available within the trip and something that I thinks important not only be able to do them on various forms of transport but also be achievable by the masses, and inspiring enough to make people think “maybe I could do that”.

No single one is rated or deemed to be better or tougher than any other, this list is designed to bring inspiration and spark that little something to make you go buy a book or google the idea. Go buy the book though, books are cool, and it helps make the idea real. Loads of friends go buy books or maps about their next trip, it’s a way of confirming and investing in the trip from the outset!


LEJOG
Lands end to John O’Groats, I know I know, but don’t get yourself in a huff I’m starting with a biggie I agree, it’s the UK’s most well-known cycle route at around 950 miles it’s no snip of a challenge but equally achievable by all, I mean dam I’ve scooted this route in three weeks so don’t ever tell yourself you couldn’t cycle it in 16-20 days.
Other ways to travel this route include running, an average time of 6-10 weeks, elliptigo and scoot or like Sean Conway who’s the king of LEJOG with him cycling, running and swimming, yes swimming. He’s setting off to sail it too! It’s also been skate boarded and a woman this year even pushed a bed the 1000 miles too! See this really is a route for all types of transport.

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Canal travel
Personally I’ve been a fan of canals for a few years now, the more I use them the more in love I fall with this journey experience. Canals, seriously where do I start, they were build a good few hundred years ago they hold a fabulous amount of British history and were our cities life lines and brought about the industrial revolution in my eyes, or were at least an influential part of its growth.

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Adventure, right, we have 2000 miles of canal path/waterway and just take a little look you’ll see they are perfect access to city and countryside alike. I beg of you to do at least one canal challenge in 2016, even if its walk Regents canal in London which stretches from Paddington Basin to Lime house Basin, It allowed waste to be transported out of London and created a link from the grand union canal to the Thames.

These routes are easy walking, running or cycling as they’re pretty flat with most paths being suitable for hybrid bikes. We have routes such as the great previously mentioned Grand union canal over 130 miles of walking and pretty impossible to get lost with no major navigation skills needed! Other routes include my previously scooted Liverpool-Leeds route 127 miles of stunning northern loveliness, and even further north the Lancaster canal which is simply beautiful.

Them being flat, well signed with pubs cafes a plenty on most routes, canal adventures fit right in with accessibility for all, challenges to suit everyone from a quick cycle or run to a three day mammoth trip to cover London to Birmingham and even kayak any number of routes. A perfect building point for any budding adventure nut wanting a challenge to practise skills and enjoy our heritage.


Coast to coast
This is high up on my list of to do’s, and in many different forms. 2016 will see me cross the country 2 possibly three times at least…

This journey is a real achievement and confidence booster, from its narrowest 70 miles in Northern England and also Hadrian’s Wall to The great glen way in Scotland and tag the last bit on to Oban, or for the southerners Weston super mare to Whitstable via Avon canal and the Thames and through London is a epic 280 mile option. Again these routes can be done on foot, fat bike and now even Kayak with the Liverpool-Leeds canal now opening up the final section to the coast through Leeds.

Theres even a widest crossing of the UK to be done, I’ll let you figure it out for yourself, but it’s a first and I’ll be running it starting in May!


Three Peaks
This may be a long section as there are many three peaks options, I’ll list them below!

National three peaks (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike & Snowdon)

National challenge is based on completing climbing all three mountains and traveling via motorised transport (within legal speed limits) in under 24 hours. This can be gruelling with down time and cramped whilst trying to get some rest, also you have to factor in climbing one of the mountains in darkness so not a challenge for a novice, although guides in all areas are available and would be advised! Believe it or not this challenge has also been undertaken on bike, yes bike, cycling between the peaks, it’s a 500 mile ride too which turns up the effort factor to +10. It’s been completed in as short as 3 days but a typical time could see you successful with 6 days. It can also be walked, Kayaked AND sailed.

Yorkshire

This is a single day challenge normally done in under 12 hours, within the Yorkshire dales national park. It takes in three peaks above 690 metres Pen-y-Ghent (691M) Whernside (728M) and Ingleborough (723M) This really is a great challenge to use as training prior to attempting the National three peaks and to see this stunning part of the UK.

Welsh(Snowdon, Cadir Idris & Penny Fan)

This is the most un known of the Three Peaks trips. Personally the best way to experience this is by cycling between the peaks, its around 180 miles all in. I’d throw down the gauntlet and say its possible in 36 hours but 2-3 days would be much more suitable. Theirs hostals and camps sites pretty close by to stop and re fuel and rest. It’s on my list for 2016 as a nonstop beasting trip!


Coastal Paths

Gang, the sea, our coast line. Mostly looked upon as uninspiring and not the golden sandy beaches that other countries offer, but let me tell you our beaches and coastal walking rocks in with the best!

We’ve over 5000 MILES, yes miles of coast line and no one lives more than 70 or so miles from the sea (not sure that’s entirely accurate!) there’s nothing more special than flipping through a OS map and find a cheeky cove google mapping it to check its spanking and heading off. I’ve done this so many times and found some utterly breath-taking places, and stumbled upon a few too! And to sleep on a beach with friends and wake up with the sea sunrise is a must do, but always check the tide and the weather things can get pretty wild on the coast.

Oh crumbs that wasn’t what I wanted to say, it was about traveling and exploring the coast line! Well, from town to town or city to city, be it a day, a weekend warrior or like Elise EIGHT month run around our coast there are so many beautiful strange crazy places to visit, AND, Ice cream, fish and chips and you’ll ALWAYS find a random crazy knocking around a coast path, just start worrying the day you question if it’s you or not!
Travel by river

This is on my personal list, whether it’s by Kayak, canoe or Stand up paddle board 2016 will see me get on the water to experience the feeling of that different view point to life. The life on the water, it’s at a much slower uninterrupted and simpler idea. Start where the river does and follow the flow from source to sea, of course you don’t have to be so crazy there’s plenty of day & weekend options to hire boats and a guide you can even get camping and dinner thrown in too! And a great option for kids with the UK full of rivers and lakes it’s a easy way to get out and do something they’ll love, kids love a splash around in water right?


Swimming
Swimming, Swimming, Swimming. My personal weak spot. It seems to be a cool thing to do again. Outdoor or “wild swimming” as it’s called is like a whole thing!! Whether you’re doing it in a local swimming lake or researching rivers and safe spots to take a dip its one great way to add a little happiness and twist to a adventure, pack some trunks and goggles and let loose on a sunset swim. Many people pack gear up in a cheap dingy and swim drag it to a remote island on a lake for a weekend of peace and quiet. Its ever more becoming a form of transport for adventures, and when you thing about it with not only the uk but the world so covered by water it has to be a strong option for that summer adventure.


Wild Camps
This is where it’s at for me, pack a 20L bag with a few bits my KIT LIST IS HERE, dive out the office and find a hill top or water side location to share food, giggles and stories with friends both new and old. Watch the sun set get some shut eye and the world wakes you with a bright and Cherrie slap around the chops! Share a coffee and wonder at that sunrise before jumping back on the commuter train to annoy everyone else with your adventure tank topped right back to 100%. If your aware of these but haven’t taken the plunge seriously you are missing out, its life changing. It maximises every second out of your life, warms your soul with the views, people met and tales told AND, AND, builds skills seriously it does. One mid-week night under the stars and getting up and functioning again is the tough bit of an bigger adventure once you’ve that nailed the rest falls into place.

I will mention, keep it hush hush, leave no trace, keep it to a small group and no tents, bivvi bags, tarps if you must and hammocks for in woodland. Yes you should ask permission and yes it’s illegal/frowned upon, but personally the only issue I’ve had is not sleeping because of excitement and my breakfast being eaten by dogs. I have been caught by the police on the beach but they woke us to ask, seriously “are you guys having an illegal rave” the two of us grunted “does it look like we’re having a rave” they turned and left us alone. Be careful, if possible scope out the site prior to going to get a feel for the footfall. My last piece of advice on the matter is unless its remote don’t start a fire, it’s not your land and will raise attention.


National parks
We’ve 15 of the blighters in the UK ranging from Dartmoor in the south west to Avimore in the Scottish highlands never mind the other 13 in-between. Many are mountainous and some in Wales on the Pembrokeshire coast and Norfolk broads cover vast areas of coast line. These area’s are great British institutions and the type of thing our country is famous for. You’ll usually find camp sites, YHA’s and a plethora of outdoor adventure type activities to try from mountain biking, geocaching to hiring a boat on Lake Windermere and Snowdonia even has its own zip wire and in shore surf centre!

AHHH man, I’m so excited to get outside and start clearing some of these off my list of to do’s. Please let me know if you have any other questions about these places or challenges, I’ve tried to keep the blog as short as possible!

Happy Adventuring!

What shapes us?

 

The jam jar encased candle light flickered in the ever deepening darkness was the only contact I’d have with my dad for the whole of the night. The wind toyed with my senses playing effortlessly with the trees, water lapping at the bank side. I re adjusted my bin bag and tried to settle for my first night fishing adventure, I was 8 years old, I never felt anything other than a feelings of contentment and comfort, outside cold or darkness only ever felt natural to me.

The build up of excitement as I sit at our patio doors watching the onslaught of big hard rain drops purposely fall from the sky so hard they bounce back into the air. The ground so dry I can hear the water being sucked into the grass. Before long another home cooked Sunday lunch freshly picked from the garden that morning is sitting heavily in my stomach and fuelling my desire to get outside and find every possible puddle to jump in, ruin yet another set of clothes! We are soon on the hill sliding down on whatever part of our bodies give us least traction on what is now a mud to puddle slip & slide. At 11 I am even further fuelled by being outside at one with nature, only being put off by the thought of the two baths to clean Sunday night but the thought of a hot meal always won me over coming home.

Tip toeing through the gates of Leon’s back garden at 7AM trying not to wake next door neighbours to find him as I did most Sundays downing pint after pint of orange juice at his mums disgust. His face filled with a love for cycling I’ve never since seen in anyone else, a love which has never left him, it’s who he is. Losing valuable seconds we scurry out the garden and head into the Derbyshire countryside, smiling laughing talking about today’s plans whilst at the same time trying to suck enough air inside us to calm the burning in our thighs. We stop to fill up at Ticknell shop, cheese & onion naps & fig rolls stock us up for our day ahead. 12 miles done we jump back on the bikes and settle ourselves into the long unforgiving hill that gets us every Sunday sapping us momentarily of our excitement for what the day holds for us.

The gravel path leads us down to the woods mist sitting low between the trees our excitement notches up another gear as we sprint off down the fire track winding around the bends pretending we’re Steve Peat. As the woodland gets thicker we pull up and gather ourselves before hitting our handmade of road track zig zagging round berms avoiding trees trying to stay flat over the jumps riding so hard just getting to the bottom still holding onto the bikes is the only goal. The day is spent digging holes with such purpose it’s as if we’re hunting for gold, moving trees so big an hour or two is passed just getting them into place. Our whole winter was spent digging, moulding riding over and over until daylight escaped us, that cold horrible ride home was always the toughest of training rides. I was 17, cycling is my life my closest friendships were grown and found in the years I spent in these woods…

My foot slid once again into the snow until my knee passes the thin frozen crust left by last nights freeze. Neither of us were expecting this to be such hard work or this route to be so steep. We again make eye contact as the snow continues to fall we say nothing but both know this is out of our comfort zone, not just out its burst through. We cannot down climb, nor move left or right the gully we have found ourselves in might at this point be the end of us. No rope, ice axes a purely exploratory trip our first in full winter conditions. I can see daylight the brightness making the day seem so inviting but for this moment the gully seemly wanting us to fully understand the stupidity of our actions shields us from the warmth we should by now have on our backs. We tentatively move upward begging with each footstep that the one thing that could kill us chooses to compress into another solid placement and grant us another breath and passage into the people we are to become from lasting out exploration of self. Any feeling of cold is swallowed by fear snow now falling so hard that hard inviting crust has vanished beneath soft fresh powder. Moving upward slowly with purpose into the unknown knowing at some point it couldn’t go on forever, we pause to check our own sanity “ok Tim” “yup” was the only reply, time seemed to stop the world left my side head only focused on moving, staying alive finding an end to this. Then there it was the twin stones of the summit, winter sun behind desperately trying to burn through the cloudy evening sky. On making flat ground we hug and burst into laughter our first winter climb in the bag, by the seat of our pants I might add. Deep inside I knew this had touched something and awoke a desire for empty cold dark miserable places. We laughter and talked the whole route down whilst inside my lust to be back in that gully grew and consumed me, that period of time where nothing matters more that each breath, footstep and hand hold. We swiftly as always head to the pub to talk over the day, plan the next adventure and talk about altitude mountaineering. I am 28, I wasn’t to know but this trip and many like it fundamentally changed my life, maybe for better,maybe for worse. I’ll never know….

Stepping out of the tent at midnight to see the never ending trail of head torches stretching seemingly endless into the night sky, zig zagging between the stars. I now start to worry and wonder what the hell I’m doing here, I close the tent up and tighten the laces on my boots “right let’s crack on” I join the back of the group as we wind our way up the path nose to ruck sack all sixteen of us. It’s not long before intermittent back problem slows me so a stop, I lean forward on my poles and stretch out the cramp and hope for ten minutes of walking before the next stop. Being able to breath or not haven’t even come into play as it hits 4AM guides are bringing people down the mountain who simply cannot cope with the thin air. Stop start stop start, I am frustrated beyond belief but my guide can see I’m only struggling with pain in my back as we talk freely as we walk. We climb on stop start stop start, now begging for the sun to appear to our right, hands feel frozen unable to tear the grip from my poles, with the wind building the guides says it’s the coldest so far this season our jackets covered in frost my right eye feels frozen shut, I refuse to test my feelings in fear they’re true. Stop start stop start, then out of now where the sun shows itself revealing the curvature of the earth I use it as another excuse to stop stretch out and savour the view, time has all but stopped I’m in pain but enjoying experience and didn’t want it to end.

I meet the group on their way back down at Stella point, they are moving slowly but all elated they’ve topped out. The cramps in my back are causing my shortness of breath, the final push with it now day light and 8 hours after we left the camp I’ve now got summit fever I can see it no turning round this is it I know my hard works paid off. 10AM I stand alone on the highest part of continental Africa, the highest free standing mountain in the world. I’m 31, this trips exploratory for myself physically and mentally. I don’t know how it’d gotten their but I left a piece of myself that I could finally take back.. Somehow going to Africa lead me to London, we truly never know what lies ahead for us….

Standing in court having the accusations against me read out, inside I’m broken but know I’ve nothing to fear, I’ve chosen to face this. I’ve not seen my son for over a year now, I cannot explain such a feeling having to prove you’ve done nothing wrong to the point of having a psychologists report to prove my innocence. I’m 32, I cry most of the two hour journey home. My comfort zones been pushed even further away, being comfortable with being uncomfortable is becoming easier to me now. Another thing to put in my motivation locker for a later date….

It’s 7.40pm, I’ve cycled 165 miles in under 12 hours, I’m so happy and broken all I can do is weep from my swollen eyes, I’ve traveled my human power for around 850 miles now in 6 days as I roll into Marlborough knowing I’ve only 100 miles to cycle tomorrow to take me to the beach and the start line of my first road marathon in Brighton. A week previously I had set out in the darkness to climb Ben Nevis, now some 900 miles south I’ve got to summon the strength to run 26.2 miles. I’m 34 and am drawing a line under my life with my first big challenge. A line to stay I’m going to be in charge of my life and which direction it’s heading. From now on this isn’t my chance it’s by choice….

I stand alone in a park, sun beating down for what must be the last glimpse of summer reminding us just how energising it can be. After a lengthy court battle today I watch my near 9 year son old run across the freshly cut grass towards me, without looking back his mum disappears. I’m 35 and today this is the first time in 4.5 years I’ve been totally alone with my son. We play on every piece of park equipment before I introduce him to picking conkers whilst trying to hold myself together from over spilling with happiness.

Life always will have a habit of throwing curve balls our way, it can be cruel, tough and punishing. But I’ve learnt through various times throughout the years that giving up isn’t an option, yes you’ll find yourself with your back against the wall and you’ll have to summon the best of yourself from somewhere.

Epic adventures are about choosing to put ourselves in those positions, and those places where to conquer and rise up against adversity we have to simply dig in, grow as a person and be better than before. We go in search of those moments where we have to grow because sometimes with the daily struggle of life it’s nice to have the choice to challenge ourselves….

Why moving to London could make you a better athlete 

It’s coming up to my 5th year of living in London, and being a country bumbkin I was seriously worried about moving here and hating it. Never the less I came, and I tell you want it’s a fitness lover’s paradise, oh man is it ever! Here are some stats to get you convinced:

  • The eight royal parks take up 5000 Acres
  • Council ran parks include Crystal Palace, Victoria, Alexandra and Battersea park and cover 800 Acres
  • The remaining green spaces cover an huge 11,000 Acres (rounded down)
  • This doesn’t include all those small parks dotted around London
    OR, the Thames paths and river side.

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Cycling, YES FRICKING BIKES WOOO! 
So before you get thinking you’ll not have any place to escapee or go running, think again. And as for cycling, you have the mecca of Richmond park all 2,400 Acres of it.. We also have at least 6 indoor spin clubs just dedicated to the sport, yes you’ll have some whoops a disco ball and dam fine music to boot, embrace it this is London!

We’ve a cycle club for pretty much main location Greenwich, Clapham, Hampstead, Wimbledon, London Fields, to name a few !! AND, what better than a handful of cycle café’s to rest up in whilst clad in lycra with Look mum no hands and the high end Rapha club too! OH, and the UK’s best bike café in Esher, and yes it really is special! We have our scattering of cycle shops too, from Evans to cycle surgery and half a dozen privately run and high end shops too, EVEN a shop solely for electric bikes, has anyone else found it yet?

STILL CYCLING….. 
London is also just 5 hours from main land Europe for weekends away at very little cost, with routes like London Brighton/Paris/Amsterdam all a weekends riding. we also have the stunning Surrey and Kent countryside which has some of not only the most stunning but also the best riding in the UK. And if all that’s not enough we have both outdoor and indoor velodromes all within easy train rides of you, and yes we have Olympic BMX tracks and manmade mountain bike parks (Bracknell & Hadleigh) within an hour of London too, and yes you can rent bikes there if you don’t own one!

Water Sports? London? Never!
London Boasts 14 outdoor lido’s including a heated pool, Europe’s largest (Tooting at 90 odd metres) and newly built kings cross pool which is a manmade natural jobie with reeds and such like. Also to boot there’s a heap of other natural pools, in both Hyde Park and Hampstead which even has separate men & women’s only pools! Oh, we have the Royal Docks by the excel centre too!

We have Kayak centres in Limehouse Basin, Stand up paddle board clubs over Putney, the Olympic water Sport centre at Lee Valley, and a heap of sailing clubs in Rickmansworth, Kingston and on the Thames too. And as for rowing, how do you not know about the boat race? Get up at 5AM and head to Putney/Kingston way on and you’ll see the teams out training, this is like a whole thing down here!

Personal Training.
If you can find a park in London where this doesn’t happen, well, you didn’t wait long enough did you! There’s group training session before work, at lunch and after work every day, and if their isn’t well you can rope a gang from work and hire a PT for it, really easily! There’s a whole movement of free session’s to with groups like Project Awesome, Midnight runners and even The North Face Store getting involved with not only PT classes but Free trail running days too.

Boot camps & health Clubs.
Seriously, every few minutes in London you’ll go past a gym Virgin Active has over 50 within a few square mile radius match that with Fitness first, Nuffield and the cheaper no frills gyms there has to be 350 gyms! (Guesstimation)
We even have boot camp/crossfit type set ups going on too, given these are less frequent but I still pass four everyday so they are by no means tough to find! There’s tennis clubs & golf courses too!

Wellbeing & specifics
Yoga of all kinds to be found not just in gyms you have to be members of but standalone people renting spaces and selling classes for specific things, yea really. A cyclist? Yup we have cycle specific classes! We have altitude training centres, gait foot analysis even a good group of swim improvement coaches where they film your swimming! REALLY! We have trapeze schools, acupuncture, Tia chi and even floatation rooms!

Mountaineering
As I mentioned we an altitude centre to ehlp with pre aclimatiseation, ALL the shops for gear, Patagonia, North Face! Snow & Rock, Ellis Brigham (it has a ice climbing wall inside!). London even has a great array of climbing centres The Castle and The Reach are my two favourite, right in the centre (Zone 1) there are two bouldering centres too, so when you’ve no time to jump on a quick flight to Europe from our local airport you can keep up the strength in doors, no excuses!

ADVENTURE
Looking for inspiration, London has a vibrant adventure soul beating at its heart with speaking events being held almost weekly, many in large pub rooms that hold 50-80 people but every few months there’s something real special at say the RGS (Royal Geographical Society) or an outdoor/adventure show. Pub meet up’s for groups who are exploring a specific trip, around the world cycle shall we say.
London’s adventure community isn’t about just doing something inspiring or amazing it’s about our way of life, its infectious and we are a family who help each other achieve our dreams pretty much regardless of what stands in our way!

To add to all this, fuelling and repairing yourself are also high up on London’s lists of to do’s with walk in massage rooms all over the place, and if you’re working for a top London firm you might even get one come around the office at lunch! (No joke) And and, drop your shirts/suits/skirts & such like threads off on a friday and pick it all up on a Monday fresh and clean, no fat, a few quid no hassle and extra training time..

And the food outlets in the city are amazing, if you’ve no time to prep your own food, don’t worry the options are plentiful and yes even for fuelling and nutritional types who really are all about becoming a better athlete! And yes you can get it delivered to your desk…

TOO MUCH STUFF!
Oh man, I haven’t even included all the events going on down here Marathon’s, 10K races, group walks, Sunday rides out, colour run race’s and the sheer amount of Facebook groups dedicated to keeping fit and outdoor activities you’ll be wanting a rest from it all….
Let’s be straight people, you want to be at the top of your game. You need that extra edge and want to learn and grow as an athlete London is where it’s at. This place can and will change your life, if you’re willing to put the effort in and let it! OH YES, we even have a beach! No really..

Pretty much, in a nut shell move to London. Sure theirs more people but that means more opportunity, more gyms, more clubs, more disposable income and more people to help you on the way to what ever your goal is.

MOVE TO LONDON IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!

PHEW, thats me done! I’m over excited just looking at this list….