Judy Smart, 41, from Bearwood in Birmingham, set herself the ultimate challenge of cycling the length of the country, riding 70 miles a day for 14 consecutive days to cover the 990 mile distance from Lands End in Cornwall to John o' Groats in Scotland.
Judy set off on 27th June and completed the challenge on Saturday 11th July and in so doing has raised over £1000 for St Basils!
Barrie Hodge, Head of Fundraising here at St Basils said:
“I enjoy cycling but there is no denying this is a particularly tough challenge especially as the last part of the route takes in some major mountain ranges including the Cairngorms. We have serious respect for you Judy! Thank you so much for using your Annual Leave in this way and for doing this as a sponsored challenge to help our work with young people.”
Reflecting on the challenge Judy said;
“I have wanted to do this challenge for the past few years, I was a bit nervous at the prospect of cycling for 14 days in a row though”.
How it went
”I feel amazing now just a bit weary physically, my body has had enough! I’ve done other shorter tours for about 5-6 days but not anything as long as this. We were setting off every day about 8.30am and finishing about 4pm. I had a few shandies some nights but generally I was tucked up in bed by about 9.30pm! Obviously we made up for it though on the Saturday night when we’d finished it, we had a celebratory meal at the hotel in John o' Groats which felt great”.
“I’ve always enjoyed sports and cycling and about 7 years ago I bought a road bike which was a lot lighter so that’s when I really got into cycling long distances.”
“I did the challenge with an organised group. They’re called Peak Tours. They do about 5 tours a year and they support you, book the hotels and transfer your luggage for you to the next hotel. They arrange lunch on the move or at pubs en route and organise food for the tea breaks in the day with lots of sweet treats to keep your energy up. I’m glad I did it with a group. It would have been a lot harder without that support.”
“The route we took was from Lands End, through Cornwall and Devon, up into Glastonbury, onto Monmouth and the Welsh border, then into Runcorn and then the Lake District, past Lake Windermere and into Keswick, then we crossed the border into Scotland rode across to Edinburgh and up onto the Balmoral estate, into the Cairngorms and finally up to John o' Groats. The Cairngorms was probably the most challenging part. That stretch actually included the highest road in the UK and the hardest climb of the two weeks up through the Glen Ski Centre, it just seemed to go on and on and we were struggling against a strong Head Wind. And then the next day we got up and did another 20% climb up another ski centre. Some of it was so barren. There was just nothing for miles and miles. The scenery was amazing though – Dartmoor, the Lake District and Scotland were my favourite parts for the views".
“And it’s wonderful when you live in Birmingham to have the chance to get out into the countryside and ride with the road just stretching out in front of you.”
“They send you a 10 week training plan to gradually build up. I was cycling 50-60 miles a week at the start and about 180 miles by the end.”
"I found the training quite tough at times, just trying to find the motivation to go for long rides in evenings and at the weekends, but it definitely worked so it was worth it. I felt quite strong during the challenge. I always felt I could keep up and get up again the next day and carry on".
Why St Basils?
“I wanted to do this for St Basils because I work in mental health, I work as a counsellor for the NHS and do some private counselling too and I train counsellors, so I wanted to do it for a charity supporting mental health and I know St Basils do that. I also think it’s really important to support young people both emotionally and practically to ensure they get a good start in life. And you do it all. So that’s why I chose St Basils".
“I have been blown away by the generosity of others. I set a target of £500 originally, then thought I might get £750 but people have been really kind and I’ve actually raised over £1000 now.”
“There were 24 of us on the tour and about 80-90% of us were doing it to raise money for a charity which I think was great, it added another level to it, and it’s amazing to have the chance to do that, so that it’s not just for yourself but for other people too.”
If you would like to sponsor Judy please visit her Virgin Money Giving page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=JudySmart&faId=577583&isTeam=false
Judy has made it into our 'St Basils Champions' Hall of Fame! Could you be a St Basils Champion?