Rebecca Adlington gears up for cycling challenge
REBECCA Adlington is swapping her swimming costume for cycling gear this month as she gears up for a 450km charity bike ride in Africa.
The Olympic champion from Mansfield said she couldn't wait to do something different after the intensity of the Games but was very nervous and a bit like "a fish out of water" when it came to bike riding.
The 23-year-old said: "The last time I properly rode a bike, I was about nine or ten. Since starting swimming so regularly and with the hours and hours of training, I have always been told to avoid bikes because it's easy to fall off them and get injured.
"I'm quite nervous on a bike and definitely can't take my hands off the handlebars, not even to get a drink. But I'm gradually building more confidence the more I go out on a ride and now I'm just really looking forward to the challenge. I always like a challenge and it's a nice change after the Games to do a different sport."
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Rebecca will cycle 450km in four days from Livingstone to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia with fellow British swimmers Joanne Jackson, Ross Davenport, and Sport in Action ambassador Melanie Marshall.
She added: "I have no idea what the roads will be like but I've been assured they are pretty flat and we won't be going off road or up massive mountains. It's just really exciting and I have no idea what to expect."
The group will be raising money through sponsorship for Sport in Action, a charity that aims to raise awareness of the benefits of sport in society.
Rebecca, who won two gold medals at the Beijing Games and two bronzes in London, said that she was looking forward to seeing where the money raised would be spent.
"We're not staying in hotels along the route, we are staying with African families in small villages," she said.
"I'm looking forward to meeting the children out there and learning about their culture.
"When I went to India in 2010 for the Commonwealth Games, I was just overwhelmed by the levels of poverty, but I know that sport is a way of cheering people up and putting smiles on faces.
"That is why we are doing the bike ride."
She added: "Our aim is to raise as much money as possible to support the work of Sport in Action in Zambia and HIV/AIDS hospice care in Lusaka."
To donate to her fundraising efforts, go to www.justgiving.com.