Having encountered both extremes in terms of cycling proficiency among the riders, my initial impression was that Henderson and Gunn sat comfortably in between the two. They told me: ‘We’re middle aged and we’ll be riding in the middle peloton.’
Neither is following a strict dietary regime for the event, and their training programme forms part of their daily routine. Henderson says: ‘I cycle to work every day, and Gunn goes to the gym, simple as that.’
However it quickly became apparent that they are being overly modest: Henderson’s daily cycle turns out to be 23 miles of rough Scottish hillside, and Gunn is fighting fit, having completed the Etape Caledonia. Both have cycled to Paris from London before.
‘It’s a natural fit really,’ Henderson says of his desire to take up this particular challenge. ‘In our world of work we’re competitive by nature; it’s completely inherent, so we’re always going to seek out these kind of tests.’
And they are perfectly placed to do so, as Edinburgh provides a stunning location for cycling.
‘It’s a real privilege,’ says Gunn. ‘The scenery is spectacular and there’s barely any traffic to contend with. The cobblestones are an issue though.’
Henderson and Gunn often cycle together in the Highlands, in what they refer to as a ‘two-man peloton’. The opportunity to cycle as part of a real peloton is therefore a particular source of excitement, both for the social aspects and the physical experience. ‘You can go about 20% faster than you would on your own. It’s amazing, they really fly,’ says Gunn.
This isn’t the only piece of technical knowledge the dynamic duo divulge. Gunn stresses the importance of carb loading: ‘Two days before the cycle eat as much high carbohydrate food as you can, you’ll find it really helps with staying power on the ride.’
‘We’re going to need all the help we can get,’ laughs Henderson. ‘At the end of the day we’re just two old stags trying to prove that we’ve still got it, and if we can beat Adrian [Maxwell, of the Liverpool office], all the better.”
I’ll be interviewing Maxwell next week, so watch this space for his response!
Top tip: Drink a protein shake immediately after a long training session as it aids recovery.
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