|Image by Jenni Williams|
When we set off from Edinburgh early on a Saturday morning, we cycled out of the city through Holyrood Park. As I cycled through that park my thoughts were with the family of Alan Templeton. Alan was missing for more than five years before his body was sadly found in Holyrood Park in 2012. After the long hard months of training it was an emotional start to the five day, 500 mile, trip home to London.
The first day was the hardest day – 114 miles and a LOT of very big hills. Someone might have used the word mountain at one point. When we reached our hotel in Newcastle we were all thoroughly exhausted. It was the furthest most of us had ever ridden in one day, and we felt every mile. Getting up the next morning and setting off again was daunting and not a little bit sore! I had my hardest moment on day two. Marathon runners call it hitting a wall but we cyclists call it bonking. It’s that feeling that you can’t carry on a minute longer, that if someone would just find you a quiet roadside verge, you could happily curl up in a ball and stay there, quietly weeping. What got me through it was the camaraderie and support of my awesome team mates, and our fantastic Ride Manager. A massive roast for lunch didn’t hurt either. Climbing up across the North York Moors after that lunch was one of my happiest moments of the whole trip.
That evening, Peter Lawrence joined us for dinner. Peter’s daughter, Claudia, has been missing from York since March 2009. Peter thanked all the cyclists for our fundraising efforts, and for supporting all families of missing people. The next day, as we slogged up yet another hill, my team mate Andy summed up what it was that kept us all going through those hard times – and we all had them. Andy said “Peter Lawrence has entered my mind several times when I think I’m in pain - I realise I don't really know what pain feels like”. Despite the hard times, I can honestly say that I enjoyed parts of every single day. I got stronger at climbing hills, and most confident on descents. By day four I felt like I was finally in the swing of things!
Arriving back at Richmond Green was an incredible, emotional, moment. Our Chief Executive, Jo Youle, said it all in a supportive email she sent us, which I read out at dinner on day four: “That's what will get you through this when fitness and training aren't quite enough on their own. Human spirit - being together, community, enterprise and challenge and care for one another. When you reach the finish line you'll look for 'your' people - your friends and family. It will be a proud moment.” As I crossed the line I did exactly that – I looked for my people and, very briefly, I allowed the thought to flicker across my mind… What would I do if one of them went missing? That’s why I took on this challenge, and why I kept going when it got tough; to support the work of a charity about whose work I am truly passionate.
I would like to offer my profound thanks to all my team mates (who included police officers and representatives from Missing People supporters Tracesmart and Places for People) and the fantastic team from Ride2Raise, Dave, Aiden, Tim and Richard, who kept us safe, fed, watered and loved all the way (and hardly ever got us lost…). Thank you all.
You can still support our Cycle Challenge by making a donation to Missing People. Or, if you’re up for a real challenge, something that could possibly be the most scary and enjoyable thing you do in 2014, you could sign up yourself!
By Lucy Holmes,