Handcycle Marathon #challenge2015

Why this?

Handcycle Marathon? what was I thinking! but it was all for a very goo reason.

Before the days of being confined to a wheelchair I used to help out as a volunteer. I used to work with young people at a  local youth theatre company called WAWWA.

I had the pleasure of working with some amazing young people in my time there. Not to mention the chances i had to work the stage on some fantastic shows.

The problem with young people are they are addictive. If you are willing to open your mind they will teach you more than you can ever wish to teach them. That is exactly why I loved them all so very much.

One girl really stands out in my mind. Tash, a great kid and a wonderful family of whom I was and still am very dear of.  One day the phone rang and I was presented with the worst news imaginable……………

On February the 14th, a day I will never forget. Tash was taken from us. She died from Toxic Shock Syndrome, this is not common and the symptoms can if known be very clear, Unfortunately for Tash these where missed, Her family like millians of others simply did not know what they where.

Since Tash’s death her family have campaigned to make sure as many people as possible are aware that Toxic Shock Syndrome exists. TSS aware was set up to inform others of the symptoms. Hopefully lives have been saved.

the challenge

My Next Challenge is aimed at raising awareness. To do this I decided that a very fitting challenge should start at point that has meaning. For me there was nowhere more suiting than where it all started,  WAWWA rehearsal room. It just had to be that place.

I decided that as my life has changed so much since being in a wheelchair,  I wanted to do something that would show a real challenge to me. Something that would raise awareness, make people want to know what I was doing and why I was doing it. So I decided on a push maybe a marathon or something like that but I didn’t want to get swallowed up in the crowd. The plan I wanted was to make it stand out.  The best way I could was over a distance. So I really wanted to start at WAWWA. that was the first bit sorted.

After much deliberation I decided I would take myself on a journey.  All I need was to decide we I would end it. Then it came to me! It would end  in the very place a young angel stepped into heaven. The very place we all stopped and  celebrated the great life of such an amazing young lady. The lovely St Priory Church in Chepstow. Where Tash’s funeral was held.

planning and PREPARATION

Planning began. The route has been decided. Distance? 21.6 miles. Taking on long roads, up steep hills and also back down again.

I had a support vehicle to follow me. My wheels was a quickie handcycle. Up until I completed this I had not cleared anything close to this distance. The whole thing was completed using only my hands as the source of power.

I was nervous, as i always am before a challenge. However I couldn’t wait to hit the roads for another milestone challenge. Joined by a great team and for a great cause.

the ride itself

The ride itself was hard. I can lie it rained hard the whole way. Within 10 meters in I was soaked through. It also stayed that way till the end. We battled the wet and the cold. The hills where long and tiring, the last hill of all nearly broke me.

With the support of those around me I battled on till the finish. With one of the team being seriously affected by the cold, we needed to get her off the bike and in the warm. The bike was loaded up into the car and the challenge continued. One thing I have learnt is there is no point putting yourself at risk.

Then another of the team got a puncher and suddenly the spare bike came into its own. So a quick swap and we where back on, finally the last hill and then down to the finish line freezing cold and soaked through. The feeling was immense and the challenge was complete.

What a day. What an experience. And best of all we hit the news so loads of coverage. Awareness was what this challenge was about. So a successful day in the end.