Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fundraising bike ride

So, it was about 8 weeks ago when I started to think of ideas to raise money for my 13 week volunteer manager placement to Costa Rica. Various ideas were thrown in the pot and vetoed, however one theme remained consistent between all of them; and that was cycling.

In June of this year myself and 3 friends cycled 2500km from Stockhom to London in 21 days, to raise money for Sustrans a well known sustainability charity. Alas, I thought it would be good to try and use a bit of this fitness for another challenge. My original idea of cycling for 24 hours solid was quickly ruled out by a friend of mine, who amongst other things said that not only was the idea stupid but incredibly dangerous for my health. A fair point, seeing as just staying awake for 24 hours is hard enough, let along cycling for a full day!

I eventually settled for a cycle challenge of a 10 hour solid ride. It would take place on the well established 7 mile loop around Richmond Park, thus allowing friends to come along and join in for a lap or two if they so chose to keep me company. The preparation went well; not enough training, a mountain of work commitments enough to snow under an Eskimo, and the dreaded (and life threatening I might add) Man Flu which plagued me a week before the ride.

I gave myself a night to relax 2 days before the ride; a coffee with a friend along the Strand. I cycled there on my beloved bike, and carefully locked it up outside the café in full sight. Unfortunately I am also sad enough to insist we sat in the window in order to keep an eye on it. We chatted away, having a laugh when my friend joked that I am so sad I should indeed marry my bike. I looked across to give the old girl a wink, when I noticed, to my amazement, that she was no longer there. I upped from my seat and ran to the bike rack. I returned to the café with a face like a bag of sand. My bike had been stolen. Two days before my well planned, and much publicised ride, and I had no bike.

Facebook came to my rescue with a mate offering to lend me his bike, a very kind gesture and one I very much appreciated. It crossed my mind to postpone or even cancel the ride, taking the evening as a bad omen. However, there’s one sure fire way to get rid of that much frustration and anger- err, cycle for 10 hours..?

The morning came, and someone upstairs must have been listening as the sun was shining. It was baltic cold, but it wasn’t raining and wasn’t too windy. I set off at 8am and cycled until midday when I had some friends join me on my coffee break. Another friend joined me for a couple of loops of the park although his pace tended to be slightly quicker than mine! I had another friend join for the last couple of hours of the day taking me past the hundred mile mark. It was very satisfying to see the miles counting up on my GPS, and to receive messages of encouragement along the way. The JustGiving updates also kept me informed as to when people donated on my page, which was the best encouragement of all.

You’d think I would have high’s and low’s of the day, 10 hours 21 minutes and 108 miles is a long time to be sat on a very hard seat in November. But being honest, I was smiling ear to ear all day. I even had a cheeky smile at the thief who had stolen my bike 2 days beforehand. He had no idea that his actions had such severe implications, but the fact that my friends helped me out and I decided to go ahead anyway made me laugh. I guess if I hadn’t laughed, I’d have probably cried all the way!

The fundraising continues for my trip to Costa Rica in January. I’m nearly at my target, and have a number of fundraising sessions set up in the coming weeks to get me over the line. There is plenty of planning to do in addition to this, fortunately I had the best part of half a day on my tod to think about it! All in all, I can’t wait to get out to Costa Rica and I can’t help but think that events like this are all part of the journey.

If you’d like to know more about myself or Raleigh International please do not hesitate to get in touch (jbaguley@gmail.com). My fundraising page is also still open, and any donations as always are more than appreciated. www.justgiving.com/jon-baguley