Sweating and cycling for South London Cares

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Next week, volunteer Siobhan is cycling 310 miles – from York to London – in aid of SLC. Here, she explains why she's undertaking this challenge of a lifetime.

One week to go!

A week from today, I’ll be starting a 310 mile cycle from York to London in aid of South London Cares.

Just a year old, this inspiring charity has been tackling isolation in Southwark and Lambeth by recruiting and mobilising a network of young professionals to provide company and practical help for older neighbours. I was introduced to South London Cares last year, through a friend who had been involved with their sister charity across the river; North London Cares. I’ve been really struck with what a valuable role they play – helping people make the jump from good intentions to actually making a difference in their local communities.

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The idea of taking part in a ‘Tour de France inspired ride from York to London’ was sown in the tailwind of last year’s Prudential RideLondon. A quite literal tailwind – the 2014 RideLondon was subject to the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha, torrential rain, thunder and lightening! With endorphins running wild and not quite appreciating what the ‘Tour de France inspired’ bit meant, I signed up the the London Green Cycling Clubs Charity Challenge. The Challenge follows, as closely as is practical, UK Stages Two and Three of the 2014 Tour de France and finishes with a 100 mile loop through London out to Surrey and then finishing back on The Mall on Sunday August 2nd, with this years RideLondon event.

On paper, the distance itself (it's 11 marathons!!), spread over four days isn’t so bad – however four consecutive days riding is pretty daunting for me. My only experience of multi-day riding was over a year ago and punctuated by vineyards on a wine tasting long-weekend! The amount of uphill riding will also be demanding – we’ll climb 18,000 feet over the route, with a third of that on one day alone. That’s about 18 times the height of the Shard at London Bridge – or half airplane cruising height!

It’s been tricky fitting in the training – especially the long distance rides – but a quick tot up of training miles cycled and it’s an encouraging 800 miles since May this year. Our latest training session was over an 80 mile route called the ‘Hell of the Ashdown’; what felt like relentless climbing through the Sussex Downs with a total elevation of 7,300 feet.

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Probably the most fun long distance training ride I’ve done is the Dunwich Dynamo - 120 miles overnight from Hackney to the Suffolk coast. Started by bicycle messengers on fixies in the 90s, the Dynamo attracts all sorts of cyclists and has a brilliant atmosphere spurred on no doubt by boom boxes en route, egg and bacon rolls with 15 miles to go, and a well earned beer and a snooze at the end on the beach.

With a week to go, I can’t say I feel ready exactly, but I do feel determined. I’m nearly half-way to my fundraising goal and would love to hit the £1,000 target. Every bit really does help South London Cares help older neighbours. £20 could covers the cost of a film night, £40 helps pay for a cooking session for ten isolated people and £150 could provide transportation for 14 neighbours otherwise unable to attend our Social Clubs. Fingers crossed I’ll make it up all the hills, and hopefully with no punctures. Despite all this cycling, I’ve not yet successfully changed a tyre – that can be next year’s challenge!

We're amazed by Siobhan's challenge – good luck Siobhan! If you can help her reach her target, please visit http://www.everyclick.com/siobhancycles500k.

Emily Quilter

Posted by Emily Quilter on Wednesday 22nd July 2015

Emily is the Director of Development for The Cares Family. 

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Living in Camden or Islington? Check out our sister charity North London Cares