Every legend and every hero has a starting point. That event or day in their lives that changes them forever. The chance to move away from the herd, away from the realms of normality and become something special. The moment they can look back on and say “That’s where it all became a reality”.

I’m not a big fan of quotes, I’d rather say my own things, but sometimes I hear something I really like. The recent Batman films have re-launched the franchise and produced one of my favourite film lines: “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” This to me sums up perfectly modern life and the world we live in.

There are a lot of good people in the world – people who hear a story on the news that touches them. People who like to think of others and want to live in a world when Good Samaritans exist. But modern life is too hectic, they have work and a family to focus on, and all the good thoughts are wasted. Thinking about doing something to help others is a start, but actually following through with the plan and doing it, that’s what matters.

The trouble with doing things for charities is that they’re normally not very exciting. Helping others gives you personal satisfaction but it’s often not enough to keep you satisfied. What you need is a challenge that allows you to do something for society while also giving you the buzz and excitement you need to satisfy yourself. An epic challenge that allows you both to give and to take. Raising money for a worthy cause while gaining an experience that will push you to the limit and maybe change your life forever.

You don’t need to be a professional athlete to push your physical and mental limits. Some challenges are so tough that they can give you a new understanding of your own capabilities. Everyone is born with the potential to be a hero. It’s time for you to say “This is my beginning”.

Monday evening saw the launch of the Gran Corsa 2011 at Look Mum No Hands! in London. Where in London it is, I have no idea [you can follow this link to find out – Ed]. I’m a country boy from the North. Big cities confuse me. Luckily, I had my team manager John Herety and fellow Rapha Condor Sharp rider Dean Downing with me to ensure I didn’t get lost. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my cat and didn’t see a single street paved with gold.

The Gran Corsa gives cyclists the chance to ride part, or even all, of the route of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity. The launch started well. Me and Dean were given a ticket which entitled us to a free drink. Non-alcoholic, of course. Followed over the course of the evening by many more non-alcoholic drinks... Although why my water kept getting served to me in a Kronenbourg bottle, I’m not sure. The venue was packed, maybe with people like me desperate for a non-alcoholic drink, or more likely because the ride has generated a lot of interest. At least it had until the route was revealed.

After an opening talk in which Sharp head honcho and RAAM veteran Paul Molyneux set the scene and explained the motivation for the ride, we were shown the route by the man in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, Phil Deeker. Phil claimed to have driven the whole route along with his wife. Hopefully they are still talking to each other.

We were shown each stage profile, with an expert opinion from Phil. If he was trying to get people to sign up for the ride he maybe should have been a bit less honest. The route can only be described as ridiculous. Certainly the mention of the word “Zoncolan’” caused a few murmurs from the crowd, as well as a few worried looks [it’s one of the toughest climbs out there – Ed]. Dean, who won’t be doing the ride, continued drinking his non-alcoholic beverage with a smug look on his face.

Luckily for the amateur riders, the route for the Gran Corsa has been broken up into various packages, so if you’re not a nutcase like Paul, who is doing the full three weeks, you can still experience stages of the Giro without having to do the whole thing. You’ll get full support, it’s fully signed and good weather every day is 100% guaranteed. Okay, the last bit might not be true.

The ride will also see the appearance of three members of the Rapha Condor Sharp team who will ride a week each. Of course, the selection process was intensive and the successful applicants were chosen for their friendly attitudes, the fact they have all lived and raced in Italy and, in case there are any women riders, because they are all very good looking. Or maybe it was because they’re all crap criterium riders so won’t be needed for the Tour Series.

The evening ended with a brief talk by Jamie Edwards who is a mental coach and former pro basketball player. He didn’t look very tall from where I was standing, though it is possible that he was sitting down. Jamie taught us that the key to success is neutral thinking and breathing. I won’t tell you more as I need every advantage I can get and don’t want everyone using these techniques. I couldn’t help but notice his e-mail address was jedwards@…. Slightly misleading as he was neither Irish nor did he have big, spiky hair.

As well as allowing myself and Dean to drink between one and 10 beer-flavoured bottles of water, the evening was also a fantastic way to launch the event and inspire people to take part. For the people that sign up, 2011 is certainly going to be a year to remember, and hopefully the money raised for the Prostrate Cancer Charity will allow some men to enjoy life for many years to come.

The Gran Corsa 2011: join the fun (this might be a misleading word). Dean won’t be there, I will be. Hopefully lots of people will join me.

For all the details go to www.grancorsa.com.

Thanks for reading.