Riding around 2,500 miles through Europe over mountains and through beautiful scenery with just yourself for company can be a daunting prospect for most of us.
But for Rose McGovern, 27, from Clifton, it was a challenge to be beaten.
Miss McGovern completed the Transcontinental cycle race, between Geraardsbergen in Flanders, in Belgium and Canakkale, in Turkey, in 19 days last month, raising around £1,200 for charities Katharine House Hospice, Help Refugees and the Prisoners Education Trust.
The ride has no specific route – cyclists must plan their own route through four checkpoints in France, Switzerland, Italy and Montenegro – and racers choose when and where to rest.
They also receive no support and riders can only use what they take with them or what they find along the way.
Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, Miss McGovern said the challenge was tough.
She said: “It was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it was very, very hard. I was pushed to my physical and emotional limits, further than I could have imagined.
“People were really nice in Belgium. There were lots of Lycra clad cyclists, of all backgrounds. My mum came with me to the start. The race starts off with a-lap-and-a-half of the town and then you go off on your own and within a minute, you are completely on your own.
“It was challenging, I got lost a lot, which made it really hard. I got cold a lot, which I wasn’t expecting in the summer.”
There was plenty of cycling up mountains, with Miss McGovern climbing a total of 183,792 feet, more than six times the height of Mount Everest.
Most of the time she stayed in hotels and hostels along the way, although there were a number of occasions where she had to sleep under a tree by the side of the road.
And although she was told to find a different bicycle for the race, her current bike, which she has christened Snowy, was more than up to the task.
“My bike was perfect for the race in the end,” she said. “A lot of cyclists spend a lot of money on bikes and gear. I bought my bike as a student six years ago for £700 and I have done everything on it.”
Miss McGovern said she spent most of the ride alone, but would meet up with other riders at the checkpoints and occasionally spotted one sleeping under a tree.
“I have made some great friends. One guy I met before – we do the same commute in London – and he finished the ride a few days ahead of me.”
Since returning, Miss McGovern has made the decision to leave her job as a headhunter and to cycle around the world.
She said: “It’s a loose plan but I plan to spend few months in Calais volunteering in the jungle. Next year I plan to cycle in Asia, Australia, South and Central America.
“Then in June I want to do the Trans Am cycle race through the United States.”
To read Miss McGovern’s blog, visit https://girlridingbike.wordpress.com/