You will notice I have not referred to this as my achievement, but our achievement. The reason for this is I have had a small team around me who have been instrumental in making this happen. Our campaign began a few weeks ago when I decided I wanted to support a friend whose puppy has JKD. Rather than asking the boxer community for support, I decided I had to do something to earn that, which is where the idea for the sponsored bike ride was born. I posted on websites and approached all of my family and friends (numerous times!) to see if they would get behind this. Initially I had aimed to raise £500 for Roxy, but after a week I was despondent by the lack of response and thought I may only get to around £350.
Then a few things happened which inspired me and made me believe we could exceed the initial target significantly. Firstly our story touched a lady within the boxer community who threw her weight behind our campaign and started sharing within her circles, which generated further pledges; secondly we received an anonymous donation for £100 which was totally overwhelming and left us all speechless; then an article went out in the local paper which touched many people and increased pledges by over £100 in 2 days; finally a friend of mine sent out a personal message on our behalf to over 50 of her friends, which again generated further pledges. All of a sudden the £500 target had become £700 and we would soon be on for the race to £1000!
What not many people did know is that I have been unwell this week, something which resulted in time off work and has got progressively worse. So when I awoke at 5:30am yesterday morning having not had much sleep, with a sore throat and a bad cough still, I feared it was going to be a long journey. Then to my surprise Lesley (who had supported our campaign) turned up at 6am to offer words of support and see me off! I was overwhelmed that someone I had only known for about 2 weeks and had never met would display such a thoughtful gesture.
Barley light I set off at just before 7am and began my journey. It was very cold, but there was little traffic and I had my music for company. The first 20 miles were relatively straightforward and I was way ahead of my projected time. This was the easy part though as I knew where I was going and it was relatively flat. I got to cycle through some beautiful countryside and observe the peace and tranquillity and all was well.
I took a quick 5 minute break at this point, checked in with my wife and then I was off again. The journey after this was a little turbulent and I ended up taking a wrong turn which added around 5 miles onto the original total. Continuing through some beautiful villages, having an interesting (brief) conversation with a dog walker in a graveyard and starting to feel a little fatigued, I headed towards Chesterfield. Once I got into Chesterfield it became busier on the roads and after competing at large roundabouts with lots of traffic, I finally found myself coming out the other end and within about 15 miles of my destination. At this point it got very challenging as there appeared to be a steady incline for the next 5 or so miles and 40 miles in my fitness was challenged to the limit. I had to make several stops just to stretch my legs and try and gather some energy as I made my way up to the top which seemed like it would never arrive and felt like it kept getting further away. I'd say I hit the wall around the 44 mile mark and really questioned whether I would be able to finish.
I kept myself motivated by thinking about all the people who had supported me throughout this short campaign, the cause I was doing this for and the people waiting for me at the finish line. I have to say when I reached the top and started my decent it was such an amazing feeling and relief. Feeling the cold wind on my face and hitting 30mph was exhilarating and just what I needed for the final stretch. I got to within about 4 miles and it started raining, which of course wasn't bad to say I had anticipated bad weather throughout. Then as my wife and friend passed me in the car and sounded the horn to encourage me I knew I was close. Even though quite flat the last few miles I was running on empty and had slowed down from around 12mph to just over 4mph as I struggled to keep my legs moving.
I have to say coming into Bakewell and seeing my family and friends there waiting for me was such an amazing moment. As tired as I was, I felt emotional I had completed this and had people there to support me. A hot cup of tea and cake was just what I needed to replenish some of the energy, as well as cuddles from the lovely Roxy, whose journey pales my own into insignificance.
We still have pledges coming in and we are now hopeful we can hand in excess of £1000 over to Jill to go towards Roxy's care. I feel so proud of what we have achieved and thank all who have contributed with pledges, kind words and genuine heartfelt support from the bottom of my heart. A special mention to my lovely wife Lynsey and friends Lesley Parkes and Sally Chell who have played such a key role in supporting our campaign.
The funding page will still run for another 12 days so if you would like to make a pledge that would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for reading and much love, Jason