Friends, I’m touched that so many of you have donated to the charitable causes on whose behalf I’ve cycled the Danube/Ness-Leverburgh/RideLondon100. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Between us we’ve raised £6539-33 for Cancer Research, Macmillan Cancer Support, Bethesda Hospice and Guide Dogs. None of these cycles was easy – they all involved fixed-gear or single-speed bikes, and they all involved pain! Because I don’t wish to impose upon your kindness, the next (95-mile, single-speed) bike ride and the half-marathon are not for charity, just for ‘fun’. And because I value your support, anyone who has sponsored me for any of these bike rides can email me with Short Story as the subject and I will email you back a free, unpublished short story. Can’t say fairer than that. Again, thank you, on behalf of all these charities. Your donations are making a real difference to real people.x
Some of you will know I’ve been in training for a gruelling charity
cycle to raise money for the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway, which
cared for my mum in her final weeks. And, yesterday, I did it. Here’s
how it went…
My big plan was to cycle from the lighthouse at Ness – the northernmost point of Lewis –
to Leverburgh, in the south of Harris: 130km in all, and a route that
involves a lot of daunting hills. Being a man who likes to push
himself (or who is borderline insane, depending on your point of view), I
decided to make it that much more challenging by doing the ride on a
fixed gear bike. That, for the non-bike-nerds among you, means you
can’t change gear to help you climb, or even freewheel when going
downhill. You must pedal every inch of the way. (I love fixed gear bikes and don’t own a bike with more than one gear).
I trained hard and felt reasonably confident, but, although
I’d done long fixie rides before, I hadn’t tried anything serious involving
this sort of terrain – so I didn’t quite know how it was going to be.
I reckoned it would take me six or seven hours.
Yesterday – the allotted day for the cycle – dawned bright and sunny –
a relief, as I’d feared a rain-soaked, wind-buffeted ride, which would
not have been much fun. Instead, I was lucky with, and grateful for, the weather, and the ride, past some of the islands’ most stunning
scenery, was actually enjoyable in places. And, yes, it was tough – the Devil’s
Elbow just outside Tarbert stands out as a particularly difficult
section. The Clisham – the highest hill in the Outer Hebrides – was not too bad. I didn’t stop for lunch or for any meaningful rests, just had the occasional energy gel or chocolate bar along with a good drink of water.
I pushed through, and cruised into Leverburgh in the mid-afternoon
after just 4 hours 51 minutes of cycling. I was truly elated with that
But, most importantly, thanks to everyone’s generosity I’ve almost doubled my original target of
raising £1000 for Bethesda. I’m currently on £1960, and now really
hoping I can make it to £2000. I’m humbled and awed by the response to
my ride, which says so much about the way the hospice is regarded both on the island and elsewhere. Last summer I saw at first hand what an amazing job the
Bethesda staff do, and it made me determined to do my bit to help
raise money for this wonderful place. Thanks so much to everyone who helped me (Dad, Charlotte, Francis, D.R., Innes, Norrie) and to everyone who sponsored
me and thus supported the vital service in the community Bethesda provides.
If you wish to contribute a donation, please click here. 🙂
As you may know, my mother Peggy MacNeil, who was well known in Lewis and across the airwaves on Isles FM, passed away in August 2011. She spent her last weeks in the amazing Bethesda Hospice and Care Home in Stornoway, and the staff were just brilliant: so caring, helpful and full of humour. They made my mum feel very much at home, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to her friends and family.
Now I want to give something back by raising some money for Bethesda. On Monday 7th May 2012 I plan to embark on a sponsored 130km bike ride from Ness, in North Lewis (top of the map), to Leverburgh, in South Harris (bottom of the map, just past all those scary hills). This would be a gruelling ride anyway, but I am going to make it extra challenging for myself by doing it on a fixed-gear bike – which means you can’t change gear or freewheel; you have to pedal literally every inch of the way – even downhill! And going uphill? That’s even tougher than usual as you can’t change gear – there isn’t one to change to!
I’m already in training for what will be the hardest day’s cycling I’ve ever done. And it will all be worth it – Bethesda is a wonderful place that improves the quality of life of so many. I’m hoping that by undertaking this epic ride, I’ll be doing my bit to help the staff continue making such a difference to patients and their families.
And this is where you come in. I’d be so grateful if you would sponsor me. I know money’s tight for most of us right now, but this is a truly worthwhile cause and I would hugely appreciate anything you can give.