Riding from the length of the country is a feat that many of us dream of – and it doesn’t have to be out of reach. Yorkshire mum Gemma Towell completed the journey – clocking up 1,534km – to raise money for charity after three of her friends and work colleagues were diagnosed with cancer.
The 37-year-old from Cowling raised £2,500 in total for Beefy’s Charity Foundation who support people with chronic illnesses – but will be completing more adventures by bike over the next year in a bid to raise a total of £10,000.
The mum-of-one said following the ride, which she completed earlier this summer: “It was such an amazing experience, the weather was typically British and I got lost, of course. Looking back I was a little quiet at the start as I contemplated the journey ahead, and what a beautiful journey it was, full of every emotion you can imagine that all came to a head as I reached Land’s End.”
Gemma was met by her husband, Peter, and daughter Ashleigh when she finally reached Land’s End – she described the moment as ‘a bit like midnight on New Year’s Eve’ – saying: “It was such a big build up and nothing actually happens at the end.”
The idea of covering such a huge distance can seem intimidating at first – but time and time again we’re told that riders find they adapt quicker than expected. Gemma said: “I have to admit, I could have definitely carried on by the end of the ride – I felt physically great. I would encourage anybody to saddle up, especially if it’s for a good cause, as it’s one of my greatest achievements.”
In a bid to reach £10,000 (a target set by her employer, Whitakers Chocolates – yum!) Gemma will continue to take on various excruciating bike rides this next year with the support of FLAB (Fat Lad/Lass at the Back), for whom she has become a brand ambassador.
Describing her motivations behind the challenge to raise such a large sum of money, she said: “I was heartbroken to see the suffering and pain of all three of my friends and their families. I just felt helpless, all I could do was stand by and watch. I have a lot of anger towards cancer and I wanted to put all of this built up hurt to good use and so decided to use it to fuel my fund-raising efforts.”
Having completed the ride, Gemma is keen to encourage others to give it a go – here are her tips for potential riders of LEJOG, JOLEG – or any other epic journey by bike…