On your marks…

As part of the fundraising campaign to raise money for the Gryphons Abroad project, I’m attempting to complete 12 sponsored sporting endeavours in 2016.

As the link above details, the Gryphons Abroad project is a life-changing sport and education programme run with the Bambasinani Partnership in South Africa. It gives young students better access to education, and opens new windows of opportunity. It also allows Leeds University students and staff to experience differences and similarities in cultures and values elsewhere in the world – which I think we can all benefit from.

This year, the Gryphons Abroad will deliver two projects: Inspiring through Education, raising educational aspirations, and Cycling to Success, enabling students more increased, affordable, sustainable transport. Students may drop out of education due to walking up to 8 miles to school, so this will be life-changing.

I know there are a lot of worthy causes out there. So, why this one?

Firstly, I know colleagues going to South Africa do a genuine and fantastic job there, so it’s because of personal involvement. But also, unsurprisingly, it has to do with my first love… bicycles.

My cycling obsession started in 2012, when someone bet I couldn’t cycle to London from my home in the Scottish Highlands. The full blog is here, but the basics are: a £50 second-hand bicycle, a little practice while I transitioned from motorbike to pedal power, and seven days later I was in London, bored. A day’s rest, and I set off for Portsmouth, and then I couldn’t cycle any further ‘cause the sea was in the way. Cycling to the other end of the country proved to me that I could achieve impressive physical feats, and – clichéd as it sounds – it was also a vital spiritual journey, helping me to recover, discover and aspire.

Since then, I’ve volunteered at numerous bicycle workshops and co-operatives, gained a decent working knowledge of bikes, and helped others to do so. I’ve cycled to Land’s End, and given talks at Leeds Beckett about women, independence and cycling. As well as fitness, it’s had a huge effect on my confidence and life journey. I’d not have moved to Yorkshire had I not cycled through it the year before the Tour de France, and thought hey, this is the place for cyclists to be.

So I want to support a project to enable others to raise their aspirations through cycling. To help get them to places they want to be, and to help make all places ones for cyclists.

The events I’ve opted for are below. Thank you for any sponsorship you can donate: https://www.gofundme.com/d2fh4y7w. I’m aware it seems like donating money for me to do things I want to do anyway, but I wouldn’t be doing such a challenge in this manner if I wasn’t inspired by this cause. All monies donated go to the casue – I’ve paid entrance fees, transport et al myself, which had totalled several hundred pounds.

I’ll be updating this blog after each event – say hi.




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