Stephen Mansell is a 57-year-old cycling super fan from Lincolnshire. He has supported Action Medical Research for many years and raised around £14,000. Stephen became an ambassador for the charity in 2016 and will be taking part in his second ‘London-Paris-Geneva’ bike ride on 25 July 2018 for which he hopes to raise £3,515. We caught up with Stephen to find out his top training tips, how he got involved with Action and what he’s looking forward to most about his next 670 mile cycling challenge.
Stephen Mansell takes a break from training with Joanne Ness
So, this will be your SECOND cross-continent cycle challenge for us… London-Paris is obviously not far enough for you?!?
Ha – well, I’ve done London-Paris for Action three times now and last year I got together with a mate of mine Kevin Dunn to take it that one step further. Well, about 300 miles further. It was such an amazing experience that I wanted to do it again. So next summer I’ll be riding with two good friends of mine, Steven Barker and Joanne Ness. We’re calling ourselves ‘The Invincibles’!
Excellent name! How did you first become interested in Action?
My first cycling sportive was the Peterborough 100 in April 2011 and I did the 100km course. I thoroughly enjoyed it and after the ride I spent some time talking to the organisers and getting some information about the charity. My daughter was pregnant with my first granddaughter Isla at the time and I was just very interested in the research projects the charity had supported.
Once Isla was born at the beginning of August I realised how lucky I was as she was so healthy and perfect in every way. Isla’s now nearly six and I’m delighted to report I now have another granddaughter, Thea, who is nearly 6 months old. Seeing them grow has just made me want to do more to support Action.
Then and now: Stephen with Isla in 2011 and again, along with Thea, in 2017
So you’re relatively new to cycling?
Relatively so, I guess. I used to be a keen runner and regularly took part in Half Marathons; unfortunately I then damaged my Achilles Tendon. Someone suggested I try cycling instead. I liked the idea, went out and bought a road bike in 2010 and haven't looked back since.
How much training does an event like this take?
The training needs to be built up gradually starting with short distances to get used to being in the saddle and building up to being able to do up to 100 miles just to know what it feels like. I would also recommend doing a Bank Holiday weekend of three days of cycling just to know what it feels like to do a few days in a row of 50 mile+ rides. It’s a good idea to try and do some sportives to get used to cycling with other people and also to ensure some hills are incorporated within the training. I have found that doing some regular Spin classes is also useful and through the winter I use a Turbo trainer to ensure I put the miles in when I can’t get out on the road.
If you had to convince someone to take on a similar cycling challenge to your ‘London-Paris-Geneva’ ride, what would you say?
It’s just such an amazing experience, raising funds for a fabulous charity. Seeing beautiful countryside; experiencing some ‘gentle undulations’ and some more extreme hills; making lifelong friends as you support each other through the ups and downs… It really is an experience to never forget and I can’t wait!