The winner of our cycling competition, Martin Page, finally put 10 weeks' training into practice in Sunday's British Cyclosportive - a 120 mile trek from Greenwich to Canterbury which mirrored the first stage of this year's Tour de France. Watch his final video diary.
Those of us who were children in the '80s will recall "I love it when a plan comes together" being the catchphrase of Hannibal Smith in the ‘A’ Team, and this was the case for me in the Cyclosportive.
I had followed British Cycling’s training plan to the letter, only to discover halfway through that I had been overtraining. I worked hard at improving my cadence with interval training on the hills around my home.
I paid attention to my diet, increasing my carbohydrate and protein intake. My food rations during my rides changed from Vimto cordial and oatcakes through a gradual weaning process onto electrolyte drinks and sports gels.
I was doing everything I could to complete 120 miles from Greenwich to Canterbury on July 1st.
There has been a lot of self doubt over the last 10 weeks. I suppose it was just all the unknowns. Was I fit enough? Would I cope with the hills?
I have taken many positives from your knowledge and encouragement from all over the world. It certainly helped me through the times when I felt I wasn’t going to make it after I ‘bonked’ during an 80-mile ride.
I have to say that my confidence grew during the week before the event. For the first time in 10 weeks I had some proper rest and I certainly felt mentally fitter and stronger. I knew that I could have done no more in terms of my preparation.
My plan on the day was very simple: nice and steady from the start with two stops at 49 and 96 miles. Lots of fluid and continuous munching on energy bars to keep my energy levels high was going to be essential.
I have to say that I took great encouragement from other cyclists who recognised me along the way. Scott, who must have won the sartorial elegance prize in his all black outfit on his matching black fixed wheel bike, was great company between the second and third feeding stations. The team in the Breton shirts and berets amused me, particularly when they revealed themselves to be from Crawley. Very continental!
My tactics did evolve during the event. If I found myself isolated in the wind I worked hard to get a wheel, telling myself it was 30% easier to draft and that I was going to need the energy later. I looked for groups to hide in. The bigger the men, the better the effect. I was looking for Dean Ryan and the rest of the Gloucester pack. I jumped from group to group as my form dictated. I was really enjoying myself.
I got myself in a big train sometime after the 60-mile marker; we were really motoring and I was carried through to my second stop at 96 miles. I felt really strong.
I concentrated on my form and cadence during the climbs, they were short and intense, much like the ones I had been training on.
For the first time since I started training I was going past people. Now I know it wasn’t a race but psychologically it is helpful and gives the impression you are making progress.
I played other internal psychological games. I told myself that everybody watching had come out to see me to give me the motivation not to fail. I gave myself targets of catching groups ahead and I was actually doing it. I was able to wave to the crowd, I really was enjoying myself.
At my final feed station I knew I was going to make it. The last big climb was tricky with a very steep section right in the middle that sent me hunting for my lowest gear, but still I was going past others.
Once over the crest of that hill I knew it was pretty much downhill from the 10-mile marker to Canterbury. I jumped on a group being led out by some guy on his time trial bars and hid behind a chap who had calves the size of my thighs. We were absolutely flying with the wind behind us, touching speeds of over 30 miles an hour (when I dared to look at my speedometer!). At this rate we will be at the finish in 20 minutes, I thought.
I felt like a real cyclist - I couldn’t stifle the smile coming across my face; it was sheer exhilaration.
I used ‘Massive calves’ as my target to beat over the line. I know wheel sucking is not great etiquette but if it is good enough for Tom Boonen, I can take the criticism.
I jumped off the back with 100 metres to go and timed it to perfection with a new personal best, 6:57:15. I was chuffed to bits.
The whole event had been sensational and certainly not the painful experience I had envisaged.
This whole experience has opened up a whole new world to me and I certainly would like to do more cycling.
I hope my positive experience of cycling and my depiction of cycling culture has encouraged people to have a go. If I can walk off the street and then 10 weeks later complete 120 miles, anyone can.
I also hope I done a little bit to raise the awareness of cycling in the UK. This sport has genuine merits and deserves a place at the high altar of media coverage; it's colourful, vibrant and exciting. Wake up terrestrial TV - Le Tour is in Britain!
I just want to add the real heroes who rode on Sunday are people like Geoff Thomas and David Hillier who are raising money for cancer charities - these are the people whose stories we should be supporting.
Finally I would like to thank all at the BBC for allowing me to undertake the Cyclosportive. In addition I would like to thank all those that have contributed on 606, my friends, colleagues and family for all their support.
Most of all I want to thank my wife Libby, without her sacrifices and encouragement I could never have done it.