Genesis Research Trust Director of Marketing and Communications shares her experience of the 1000 mile cycle challenge she recently took part in, to raise money for the for the Genesis Research Trust. The charity is the largest UK-based collection of scientists and clinicians researching the causes and cures for conditions that affect the health of women and babies.
It all started following a conversation with our Patron Fern Britton, novelist and presenter, whose ambition was to cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End – yes, this way round, and they say it’s tougher. The ride would be themed around the number 57: Fern was born in 1957, she is 57 years old and would cycle approximately 57 miles per day. Our target would be to raise £57,000 for research into miscarriage.
The whole challenge would take 21 days, and after several months of planning a complex itinerary provided by our brilliant tour operator Classic Tours, the ride was launched in October 2014. To our amazement, around 80 riders joined us, 23 of whom cycled the whole way. Social Media started buzzing with excitement, nerves and encouragement from those supporting us.
Most days were damp and cold with huge downpours of rain and biting winds. It seemed like we were following the elements rather than leaving them. Our route took us through the breath-taking Highlands with its endless hills, including the famous 5 mile Rest and Be Thankful; the specular Lake District including the summit of Shap where we had to be rescued by our trusted ground team as the group was struggling to stay on their bikes battling against 48 mph winds; and finally the most difficult stage, from the beautiful, but unforgiving moorlands of Dartmoor to our destination – Land’s End.
Despite the exhaustion and aching muscles, there was always laughter and plenty of smiles. The acts of kindness, encouragement and donations given along the way were simply overwhelming. Our laundry was taken care of by wonderful supporters meeting us at our hotels and returning early the next day, delicious Scottish tablet in Fort William; Rocky Roads and beautifully decorated cakes; teams of massage therapists; a team of cyclists chaperoning us en route; even a police escort into Weston-Super- Mare; dance music in Manchester on the A538 with sounds of supportive horns. What a treat it was when World Champion Silver medallist, Tony Gibb turned up at a service station in Abington to cheer us on and gave our bikes a once over. We were then joined by Chris Mancho an experienced cyclist and Director of our major sponsor Emma’s Diary patrolling and advising on cycling technique.
The challenge was a true test of endurance, but every pedal push meant that we could and would make a difference to those who suffer the tragedy of miscarriage. The enthusiasm, camaraderie and teamwork led by our wonderful Patron Fern Britton were enduring. Fern ensured that everyone stayed motivated and lifted our spirits with her engaging anecdotes and cheer. No one ever worried about feeling alone and the words ‘are you OK?’ were the mantra for the group.
Time passed by quickly and everyone was apprehensive about the last day. The event was working like a military operation and we all had our routine for 3 weeks, eat- cycle – eat – cycle – take pictures– eat – pack – sleep – etc. We were a family and would shortly have to say goodbye and go back to our normal lives. However, we cycled to the finish line together, just how we started – as a team. The feeling of success and achievement was immense and seeing Professor Winston greeting us at the finish line was just the icing on the cake. It was a truly unforgettable experience .
This was the first ever UK challenge for Genesis Research Trust and a true test of courage and determination particularly on the part of those who cycled the whole tour. The amount raised exceeded expectations – an estimated £150,000.
Thank you to Fern and all the riders, to the sponsors and those who donated and supported us along the way – together we are going to beat miscarriage.
Charity Representatives: Yvonne Konieczna and Nicolle Grace (staff at Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus), to join a challenge or for more information about Genesis Research Trust click here http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/ or call 020 7584 2192