Sunday, 17 April 2011

My Big Bike Ride to France for charity - JOB DONE!

I was sitting here watching ordinary people - just like me - running the London Marathon today and thinking: "How do they manage it?!" but I discovered this week that the human body is capable of great things.
On Thursday (April 14) I hopped onto an exercise bike and cycled the equivalent of King’s Lynn to Calais, in France to raise awareness of and funds for the Bobby Moore Fund and to help children have a better education and future in Namibia.

I arrived in the historic Norfolk town at 7am to meet with Abbie Panks, marketing manager of the Vancouver Quarter, who was the brainchild behind this fundraising idea, and we pushed two exercise bikes into position outside Sainsbury's. Then at 8pm, I started my marathon cycle of 139 miles - as the crow flies - to the French port.

I started well but kept telling myself: "It's a marathon not a sprint". I knew the busy time of the day would be from 10.30am onwards when various people would be coming along to hop on the second exercise bike to help reduce the amount of miles I needed to cover so I tried to push myself from 8am to 10am. By the time EDP photographer Ian Burt arrived just after 10am, I had soared past the 50km mark and was surprised how comfortable I felt. The pictures and a video was put on the EDP website during my attempt and is worth checking out. Click here to see it.

I was quite surprised how many people approached me during the first two hours to donate or just to have a chat about the Bobby Moore Fund and Project Namibia. Then from 10.30am to about 2pm, the Vancouver Quarter really came to life with plenty of people walking past, putting money in the bucket and giving me a bit of support which really helped me continue to push to Calais. I was also helped by a number of people on the second exercise bike which really saw the amount of KMs I needed to do start to tumble. There was a bit of a lull from 2pm to 3pm which gave me the chance to focus on the remaining 50km I had left to cover by myself. Now I have always heard of marathon runners "hitting the wall" and I realised exactly what that might feel like with about 20km left. Thankfully, a small crowd had gathered to cheer me on for the final push and I really needed their support as I entered the last 5km.

Then at just about 4.45pm, I was able to throw my arms in the arm as I crossed the finish line to (light) applause. It was a great feeling and I was delighted that it was all over! It was an incredible feeling but I think I was more overwhelmed by the amazing support of the public who cheered me on, donated money and showed such in interest in the two causes I was cycling for.

I do have to say a big thank you to Abbie Panks and the Vancouver Quarter management for allowing this crazy attempt to take place. I am also grateful to LA Fitness in King's Lynn for lending me the bikes and for the three staff members who came along and gave me excellent support - particularly Jenny who sat on the exercise bike next to me and pushed me through a tough spell in the middle of the challenge.
I was also fed and kept hydrated by Sainsbury's during the day which I was delighted with. A member of staff kept bringing me stuff throughout the day - usually at times when I needed them the most!

Along with Jenny from LA Fitness, there were a number of people to sit next to me and cycle a few KMs for me. I had Simon Rowe and Adam Newstead from KLFM join me just before Nicola and Carla from the Flux Babes popped along to strut their stuff, pose for pictures and pedal a few KMs. I was also joined by Hayliegh Beckles, from Yours Business Networks King's Lynn, PR guru Kate Cleaver, Purdie, from nearby Shakeaway, Liz Pendleton, from Downham-based Lingo Design, and even Abbie Panks!

I also have to say a big thank you to the following for plugging my challenge so well on Twitter:
_LucyInDisguise (Lucy Wright)
Gary_McGuinness
RealLCrossley (Lucy Crossley)
SimonRowe
Abbiepanks
Ian_Burt
VancQuarterKL
Fluxbabes
TribePR
Snettisher (Ian Steel)
LAfitnesstips
Richardhowitt (MEP)
DerekKnight1 
Kings_Lynn (King's Lynn Online)
mrslaurenrogers
Hayley_Mace
Han_griffiths
KLcornexchance
Speedball74 (Andrew Howell)
JoJoBuzz
travorivory
CllrVickyMD (Victoria MacDonald)

The whole point of taking on such a over-the-top challenge is to raise  £4,000 so that I can join a group of volunteers to fly out and give a much-needed facelift to Tubusis Primary School in the Damaraland region of Namibia in June in an international project run by theBobby Moore Fund. Once raised, this money will be split with half going towards dedicated bowel cancer research and the other half to project costs in Namibia.

So far, thanks to friends, family, community website downhamweb, Liz Pendleton, from Lingo Design, Michael and Wendy Foot, from theRobert Foot Leukaemia Fund, the rotary clubs covering Downham Market, Littleport and King's Lynn, and the support of Archant,HoldTheFrontPage, the Wisbech Standard and the Fenland Citizen I have raised a staggering £3,400.

But following Thursday's event, I am have now raised £3,710 after raising £260 through bucket collections on the day and also through sponsorship from people following me on Twitter. I am still a little short of my target and people can still sponsor me by visiting www.justgiving.com/davidblackmore4.

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