Derbyshire mother takes on the 3 Cities Challenge for Blood Pressure UK
This June, Julie from Derbyshire took part in a cycling challenge to raise money for Blood Pressure UK. We spoke to Julie back in May to find out why Blood Pressure UK is so important to her. Now, we catch up to find out how she and her two close friends got on.
What is the three cities challenge?
It’s a four day bike ride from London to Amsterdam via Brussels, and passes through Bruges and Breda in Belgium. We cross over on the ferry to Calais, and the ferry was the hardest bit. You’ve already cycled 95 miles, you’re tired, you’re cold, and you’re hungry. You stop cycling for an hour on the ferry but then you have to get back on the bike and carry on for five miles to the hotel.
Was it a tough challenge?
We had our highs and lows of course. But I cycled with two friends so we picked each other up, we help each other out.
One of the hardest parts is London to Dover. You might think the South of England is flat – it’s not. We had to cross the North Downs by bicycle. The weather was perfect for cycling though, it was about 17 – 19 degrees, sunny, perfect. Just a little bit of rain on the last morning.
Did you have to persuade your friends to cycle with you?
I cycled across Kenya five years ago which was a huge challenge. But after that I became ill with high blood pressure and I wasn’t able to exercise for a long time, so when the doctor gave me the all clear to get back out on my bike I decided to take on the 3 Cities Challenge. I just mentioned it to a friend and she said ‘oh, can I come?’. I was delighted, and then another friend asked if she could come too!
How did your friends get along?
I’d done a cycling challenge before in Kenya, so I knew I could do it, but they hadn’t. They had to deal with all the psychological ups and downs, all the moments of doubt and asking ‘what have I done? Why am I doing this?’ Even I had butterflies on the first morning.
I knew they could do it. They’d done so much training, they didn’t know they were ready, but I did.
What was your highlight of the trip?
On the morning cycling out of Bruges, the support team woke us up at about seven in the morning and sent us out cycling along the canal paths. The support vehicles couldn’t fit, so it was just the cyclists. The sun was just coming up and the way the light hit the water was so beautiful. It was picturesque.
Did you reach your fundraising target?
My target was £1,600 and in July I just topped £1,700. I did a lot of fundraising events throughout the year – an art show, a fashion show and a dinner. I don’t like to keep asking for money so I made tote bags out of fabric with bicycles on which people would buy for £5 – it means they have something to keep.
Once I’d got back from the event I found people would come up to me and give me a donation and say ‘well done’.
Would you do it again?
I’d recommend it to anyone. We were with a group of about 80 people doing the challenge. Everyone has their story, everyone has their own reason for being there. Cycling into Amsterdam on that last morning, all wearing the same T-shirts – the reaction was amazing, so many people came out to cheer us on.
Katharine Jenner, Chief Executive of Blood Pressure UK said:
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Julie for going to such extraordinary lengths to raise funds for Blood Pressure UK. Cycling is a great way for anyone to reduce their blood pressure and stay healthy. By taking on this challenge, Julie is helping others too, enabling us to raise awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure and reduce the risk of avoidable strokes and heart attacks.”
Julie’s fundraising web page has now closed, but if you would like to support her, you can make a donation to Blood Pressure UK.
How can I take on my own fundraising challenge?
There are all sorts of ways you can get involved with fundraising, from sporting challenges to coffee mornings. Contact us if you’re interested in starting your own fundraising challenge.