Suzanne Anderson, Julie Balen, Anna Battersby, Terry Bishop, Peter Dukes, Musa Fatty, Owen Fenton, David Jeffries, Peter Noble, Lamin Sanneh, Nana Tawiah, Gabriella Watson.
Kirsty Le Doare, Annette Erhart, Margaret Pinder, Loredana Tawiah, Mamina Bojang, Muna Affara, Pete, Beate Kampmann.
After years of watching her partner Terry accumulate biking paraphernalia and disappear on ‘sportives’ in Europe she has decided to join him on a cycling challenge in Italy next year — the Nove Colli. Suzanne is now totally geared up with a road bike, spd pedals, bib shorts and even a cadence monitor on her GPS cycling computer! Sand to Sea is part of the preparation for this but, as Head of the Clinical Services Department at the MRC Gambia Unit, it's primarily an opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of the many children living with cardiac disease in The Gambia. ‘Seeing young children at our clinic whose lives are destroyed because they are unable to run, play football or even walk to school is heartbreaking. Something needs to be done to improve their lives and the future of the many other children who will be born with heart problems and to prevent the devastating consequences of rheumatic heart disease.’
Julie used to bike only for short commutes to and from work until March 2011, when she bought a bike from a friend and set herself a challenge to ride solo down the coast of Thailand (from Bangkok to Krabi) where she was living at the time. Numerous cycling friends generously shared lessons and tips; Julie learnt how to fix a flat tyre, how to distinguish the brake cable from the gear cable, correct riding posture to avoid strain, and lots more. The ride was a mega success — not a single flat tyre (or any other problem) in over 650 km of road and off-road riding.
Since then, she has been itching to do a similar adventure, and Sand to Sea for Chain of Hope provides the ideal opportunity.
Julie thinks Chain of Hope is a fantastic charity and one that she is delighted to support through this challenge and others in the future.
I arrived in The Gambia 2 months ago and joined the MRC running club for something to do with my new free time. Nana mentioned to me that they were planning a cycle ride to Basse in the new year. I said I didn’t have a bike, but if I could get one I thought that it sounded like a nice idea. I only recently located Basse on a map… it’s quite a long way… but Nana found me a bike (with thanks to David!) so here I am…
I have now come to terms with the idea of cycling 370km over 2 days! And I think not only is it a great way to keep fit & to see the country, it is also a great way to raise money for a great cause.
I am really excited to be raising money for the Chain of Hope charity. I have worked at both ends of the 'chain', having been a junior doctor at The Royal Brompton Hospital in London which treats Chain of Hope patients, and now working in The MRC clinic here in The Gambia. In my short time here, I have witnessed the great need there is for the services that Chain of Hope provides. It really is a very sad and sobering experience to see young children and babies suffering from conditions that are routinely treated in the UK. The money raised from this ride will truly help The Chain of Hope charity continue to make a real difference.
In that time he's ridden in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Malawi and now The Gambia, most recently as the oldest participant in the 13th annual Fireflies Tour through the Alps in aid of a UK leukaemia charity.
He'll be riding his beloved 'Africa bike' — an early '90s steel Greg Lemond frame built by Billato in Italy in Tour de France leader yellow.
Musa also runs his own cycle tour company — West Africa Cycling Tours — so there will be no excuse for anybody to get lost.
Clearly I don’t have any best endurance moments, just a worst. I was running early morning on a bush path in Zimbabwe. Overnight a famer had erected a barbed wire fence across the path, which I ploughed straight into. Very soon I was surrounded by a pack of wild dogs and I had the longest and fastest 5 km run as they chased me home, with constant adjustments for minimising blood flow and maximising speed. What I’ve learnt – bikes hurt and I now know why you only ever see rugby players on static bikes.
However, having decided that smaller parts can also add value to the mission, she is committed to ride at least a share. Currently confined to a Boris Bike in London (which she will not use for Sand to Sea!), she has always enjoyed cycling, primarily to get from A to B as a medical student in Germany – where there are cycle roads – and with family and friends. She enjoys feeling the weather and the wind and the smell of Hyde Park when cycling to work in London, and a quick ride to the traffic lights to buy fruit when in The Gambia.
But much more important is the mission to ride for children with devastating heart conditions, who hardly have a chance of survival in Africa but would receive state-of-the-art treatment for the same condition in a hospital in London. She strongly believes that leading a healthy life should never depend on the accident of where you were born.
You will be called to charities every day of your life; at least we can say with this one it will make a life-changing impact. So don’t think about it, decide in 20 seconds what you would like to give and do it! If everyone gave £1.00 it would make a massive difference. Having been stranded on the River Gambia river for three days last Easter, I can also confidently say that this adventure is one that I will not be doing again!
I simply love sports, and I have always been involved in team sports and individual events. I started cycling in my late teens, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. For the gold award expedition we visited all the major lakes in the lake district on our bikes. Whist living in Italy I got to appreciate road riding and took opportunities to ride up the mountain range of Campo dei Fiori, near our house, and the Dolomites whilst on vacations. On returning to The UK I joined a very good friend of mine and his brother-in-law to cycle along the Pennine cycleway (Sustrans Route #68) which runs up the spine of England and through three National Parks from Derby to Berwick–upon-Tweed. We did that in four days. That experience got me hooked on long distance bike rides! Since then I have made it a habit to go out on my bike any time I get the opportunity. Riding through the 'garden of England' (Kent) and taking the ferry to France for day ride near Calais. It was therefore delight to learn that a couple of my new MRC colleagues were riders. I brought my mountain bike as well as road bike with me and have been riding on the streets and along the beaches of The Gambia since my arrival here.
Testing myself and having a goal to work towards. I have run a marathon and numerous 10km and half marathons to raise money for charities. Having been driven from Fajara to Basse (two of the MRC sites) and back a few times for work, it did not take long for me to think about covering that distance by bike. I put out a call to my colleagues and they responded. FANTASTIC!!!
Supporting Chain of Hope just makes sense to me. I have heard so much about the good work that this charity does from Suzanne, our head of Clinical Services here in Fajara and from my own daughter who used to volunteer organising patients' paper work to facilitate the process that led them to be eligible for surgery abroad. It will be nice to see these kids growing up to be healthy responsible adults after they have had the surgery from Chain of Hope.
I'm a Junior Doctor from London working at the MRC Gambia Unit for six months as a volunteer, part of my research project will focus on Rheumatic Heart Disease, which is why I am thrilled to be able to support Chain of Hope.
I'm no stranger to endurance-based outdoor pursuits, but as a mountaineer and ex international lacrosse player I'm used to training on two legs, not two wheels, and fear my cycle training around rainy Richmond Park may be a little different from the heat of West Africa....