Have you ever seen a Fish on a bicycle?
Efficient 'Fish' Nkala and a team of volunteers took to their bikes to tackle the 170-mile 'Way of the Roses' recently, raising £700 for Emmaus Leeds. Here he talks about the experience:
"After toying with the idea of cycling from Morecambe to Bridlington - coast to coast along the Way of the Roses route - for a little while, we eventually firmed up our decision in November 2013. With one of our colleagues having completed the route in October 2013, nothing could beat the challenge of bettering his record, whilst raising money for charity.
Having done a bit of research about local charities, we chose Emmaus Leeds as the one we would support. It was evident that despite operating on a shoe string budget, Emmaus Leeds provides more than just a bed for the night for people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion and would be worthy recipients of any money we could raise.
After various planning meetings and a training schedule that included biking to Ripon and beyond, it was finally time to put all the preparation to the test. On the morning of the 3 May, me – Fish, Jake, Alan, David and our ‘Directeur Sportif’ Geoff started on a 170 mile, two day cycling trip from Morecambe to Bridlington.
The first day of the ride was tough, with a hard slog up a hill just outside Settle, with a couple of members of the team resorting to pushing up the last stages of the climb. As if this wasn’t enough of a test, a few miles later we were sweeping down the steep roads into Pateley Bridge. Passing the scene of an accident where a fellow cyclist hadn’t made a turn I found myself involuntarily reciting the Lord’s Prayer! With a gradient at 16% and the sight of an injured cyclist on the side of the road, I felt it seemed justified.
We arrived in Ripon 10 hours later to find a celebratory drink on order for us by colleagues who had gathered to welcome us and join us for a restorative meal.
On the second day we set off at 8am with around 90 miles of flat terrain to cover. The weather was cooler but the support from our Directeur Sportif who was driving alongside was impeccable. It didn’t take long for our muscles to warm up and we soon found a comfortable pace.
We got to York around 11am and made time to enjoy the beauty of the place and take a few pictures in front of the York Minster. After the break, we were soon back in the saddle and picking up the pace through Huggate and Driffield. As the miles racked up, memories of Alan coming off his bike whilst singing ‘We are cycling’ - an adapted version of Rod Stewart hit song ‘Sailing’ - were pushed to the back of our minds, and we got on with the task in hand. At this point even the well oiled bikes were beginning to start creaking.
With Geoff and David’s family forming a guard of honour and applause from fellow cyclists we arrived in Bridlington at 5 pm. All in all it was a hugely satisfying experience, one any cyclist would enjoy. So far a total of £ 900 has been raised in aid of Emmaus Leeds, (excluding Gift Aid) and hope to be able to get to our target of £1000."
If you’d like to give to Fish’s fundraising page, it’s still open at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/teamemmausleeds