By Al Hingley……..
Late in 2017 I had the idea of raising money for The Georgina Ward at Russell’s Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands who were the people at the centre of care for my son James who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013.
The Georgina Unit is a specialised ward dedicated to caring for people with all types of cancer and James spent a great deal of time on the ward sometimes for weeks at a time.
I had kicked the idea around in my head for some time playing around with Google maps trying to find a challenge that would push me to the limit and also mean something to people who knew James and also those who had never met him since we moved to Northern Cyprus in March 2015, it turns out that these people would ultimately show their generosity to the maximum when it came to putting their money where their mouth was.
On 24th February 2018 it was the second anniversary of James passing away and this seemed like the perfect day to launch the challenge and put a date of 6th April into the diary as the day to do the bike ride, I talked it though with my wife Jacki and we decided that it would be a good idea to drive the route and check distances between points and also road conditions as here in TRNC they can be from one extreme to another, this gave us 6 weeks for training and preparation until the day of the challenge.
The route I had in my head was starting at Saint Hilarion Castle, travelling to Buffavento Castle and finishing at Kantara Castle and so the title 3 castles in 1 day came to be. I set up a Just Giving page and wrote a brief description of what the challenge was all about.
Training started and in the first two weeks this involved some 20km rides just to get my fitness levels up, I also love playing tennis at the Korineum Golf and Tennis Club which I continued to play 2-3 times a week as this also gave me a good level of fitness. After the first two weeks I started to cover different sections of the challenge, the first one was from Saint Hilarion to Buffavento which was a distance of 32km of some challenging roads and hill climbs, also shortly after I did from Buffavento Restaurant to Iskele town centre a distance of 57km but these were on the good main roads so it was just building up my stamina.
By now we were four weeks into the training and with only two weeks left it was time to change my diet with plenty of pasta, bananas and also porridge for breakfast which I have to say is not my favourite food, there was only one section of the route I had not covered so with just over a week to go I did Iskele to Kantara which was against a headwind for most of the 23km so it felt like double this distance, and for most of this it was uphill.
The day finally arrived and my prayers were answered as the weather was fine and sunny and more importantly there was very little wind, we started from our home in Tatlisu at 7.00am with the car all packed up with energy drinks, food, towels and a bike rack with my two bikes on, mountain bike for the first section and my road bike for the second half. It took around an hour to travel to the start point and by the time I had changed and off-loaded the bike I finally started at 8.20am with a steady run down to the main Girne Lefkosia road, from there I travel through some beautiful villages and stunning scenery until 8 hours later I arrived at my final destination Kantara castle high in the mountains. A total of 103km was covered with my wife behind me all the way, she carried everything I needed to keep me going and took some great footage along the way, so this challenge could not have happened without her support from start to finish.
The “just giving page” has been set up and remains open for a period of 12 months so if people decide down the road they would like to support the charity that will be greatly appreciated by clicking here..