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sponsored me for any of these bike rides can email me with Short Story as the subject and I will email you back a free, unpublished short story.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
The Dolan fixed-gear bike is having some adventures this summer! First of all, the Ness to Leverburgh ride I did in my native Hebrides in May raised an amazing amount of money for Stornoway’s Bethesda hospice (where my mother passed the last weeks of her life). Ullapool Book Festival, a favourite of anyone who has ever attended it, generously donated money from one of their famous coffee mornings this year, plus they had a charity bucket during the festival to which many people kindly donated. These lovely gestures boosted the monies raised by £470-00!
So, the bike-ride raised £2687-01 which, with Gift Aid of £433-00, totals £3120-01. I am humbled and grateful and want to say to everyone who contributed what they could and who supported the ride for this cause:
Back to the present! This week the Dolan and I are back in Scotland, delivering a film as part of the Hansel of Film project (part of the Cultural Olympiad, and brain-child of Shetland Arts, Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams. It is a UK-wide relay (Shetland to Southampton and back!) of screenings of short films made by the public as part of the London 2012 Festival.
You can find out more about it here.
I am delighted to be taking part. Shetland runs two brilliant concurrent festivals every year – WordPlay (books) and ScreenPlay (films). I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a number of events at these great festivals and so it feels good to give something back to Shetland Arts and its associated individuals and communities.
Some info from the Hansel page about my involvement:
RELAY ROUTE: ULLAPOOL TO AYR
TRANSPORT: BY FIXED-GEAR BIKE, TRAIN, KATHYMOBILE
Cycling from Ullapool to Ayr, with an occasional bus, cadged lift or train journey thrown in!
“The only thing better than a moving picture is a moving moving picture. If it’s quite a poignant film then it’ll be a moving moving moving picture. I’m riding a fixed-gear bike because it’s a physical counterpart to the mental exercise writing demands. I also want to support Shetland Arts as I lived in Shetland for a year and I reckon WordPlay and ScreenPlay are two of the best festivals in Scotland.”
Cycling through one of my favourite places in the world, the Isle of Harris. You might recognise the landscape from 2001: A Space Odyssey! (“Tinted shots of parts of the island were used by Stanley Kubrick as the surface of Jupiter in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.” -Wikipedia)
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. 🙂