By Andrew Hanson

I’d like to take a minute to reflect on the few weeks leading up to the BCH 2015 Bike Ride Challenge in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital: I had clocked up 550 miles over approximately 35 hours during the preceding 5 months training and I still didn’t feel ready for the daunting prospect which lay ahead. I genuinely thought I wouldn’t be able to endure the distance. Training had become a chore and I was struggling for motivation. With a week to go before the bike ride I learnt of the sudden news that my partner’s 5 year old niece, Rosie, had been rushed into Birmingham Children’s Hospital with suspected kidney problems. This really brought the charity and the reason we were doing the ride a lot closer to home and made me more determined than ever.

Rosie was looked after and treated in the Renal Department of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and after almost a week of tests, scans and antibiotics, she was able to go home with her family and is on the mend with regular visits back to the hospital for check-ups.

Nell, Rosie’s mum, spoke very highly of the fantastic facilities and care provided by the hospital for both children and parents alike, which the money raised helps to maintain. Everything is geared towards helping the child and parents feel as settled, calm and comfortable as possible.

I visited Rosie whilst she was at BCH and exactly a week later, the big day arrived: 108 miles from Cambridge, via Bedworth, Northampton, Leamington Spa and then back to Birmingham on the hottest day of the year so far. After an energy fuelled breakfast the 20 riders met for an 8am start. After the obligatory tinkering time, we navigated our way through the streets of Cambridge emerging into the countryside. The more spritely riders of the group picked up the pace and steamed ahead. Somehow I got caught up with these riders, and before we knew it we had taken a wrong turn. This added a couple of miles to the ride before we had even got warmed up! Later on in the ride, we met a diversion, some team members managed to get through before the road was closed, some however were not so lucky. After the wrong turns, road closures and diversions we regrouped at the first pit stop, 30 miles in and topped up our energy reserves and took on some much needed fluids – have I mentioned the heat?!

Road closures!?!

Road closures!?!

The group persevered in the blistering heat with little shade or breeze to the lunch time check point. The team gradually reunited giving us enough time to eat a sandwich, grab some much needed rest, rehydrate and get back on our way.

The penultimate section of the ride took us from Northampton, passing through Daventry and Leamington Spa to the final pit stop just outside of Solihull. With the heat of the day beating down on us, the distance and heat really started to take its toll on me. Each mile felt like ten and every gulp of water seemed to be immediately lost in sweat! At this point I really had to dig deep and  remember the reason I was doing this. Taking a few minutes to stop for some shade, I took my phone out of my pocket and was overwhelmed to see messages of support and words of encouragement which really helped me through the rest of the ride. The final pit stop was a welcome rest and knowing we only had 15 miles to go passing through home territory gave me the second wind I needed. The aches and pains of the preceding 100+ miles seemed to fade into the background and the finish line was in sight.

Upon arriving back at Birmingham Children’s Hospital I was astonished to see the turnout of colleagues and loved ones welcoming us back having completed our challenge. I was also pleased to hear we had exceeded our initial fundraising target and reached over £14,000 for the hospital.

Once the adrenaline and exhilaration of completing the ride had worn off, needless to say, I was shattered. These things are not supposed to be easy right? For anyone who is thinking of undertaking a ride of this nature, do it. Yes it is hard and yes sometimes it was painful, but it was worth it. Seeing the difference this money makes first-hand puts that little bit of discomfort into perspective.

To view images of the ride click here.

There is also still time to donate to this great cause- click here.

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Andrew Hanson, Charitable Work


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