Last month trust director, Paul Sewell, took part in a cycle challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support (Jersey). Paul was one 23 local participants who rode across Italy; from Venice to Genoa, in only four days. The route included scaling the Northern Apennine Mountains, made famous by the Giro d'Italia, covering 500 kms (100 miles on day 2 alone) and climbing over 15,000 ft.
But Paul almost didn’t make the trip. The day before departure he was taken low with a raging temperature.
Were the previous 6 months of intensive training all in vain? Thankfully not! It is amazing what a difference 24 hours can make and the following morning (although still not 100%) Paul managed to depart Jersey for London and onward to Venice. Albeit this part of the journey was not without its drama as whilst en route to Venice the plane developed an engine problem due to an earlier bird strike and had to return to Gatwick. The trip was off to an inauspicious start and with the combination of feeling unwell and the misfiring engine Paul could have been ascribed as developing his own version of bird flu!
The next 4 days were an adventure Paul will never forget. For the first two days, there was mile after mile of almost completely flat roads. As Paul said - "Flat sounds great, until you realise there are no downhill sections to have a rest – you just have to keep on pedalling." Then there was the traffic, "can Italians really see around corners, as they overtake you on blind bends?" With temperatures in the high 20’s, Paul revealed the constant need to take on liquids and to replenish lost energy. Not a chore you may think, until you realise that on average each cyclist burnt 4,000 calories a day and had to rehydrate constantly. At first, Paul (who is also type 1 Diabetic) found the novelty of eating copious amounts of chocolate a rare treat. But by his 4th bar of the day, this soon turned into nausea. The second half of the trip was very different with roads more resembled ramps – "often 12% gradients went on for several kilometres" and there were more false summits than a United Nations resolution. Leg muscles burned as temperatures, over the high passes, fell dramatically. There was mist, there was rain and eventually there was a thunderstorm. This meant that what should have been fast, revitalising descents through wonderful scenery, turned into an ordeal that made necks, arms, wrists and elbows scream out, as brakes were applied for 90% of the entire ride down.
However, the one respite that all the riders enjoyed were the regular cappuccino breaks at remote hillside cafes, which seemed to spring from nowhere and where the green Lycra clad foreigners bemused the locals!
Eventually on the last day at the top of the final ascent, the riders were rewarded with a stunning view of Genoa and the Mediterranean beyond. Paul recalls "The run down from the top was simply amazing, not least because it was dry, bright and there were stretches when the road was sufficiently well maintained that we could let go and enjoy a wonderful ride that just seemed to go on and on... The final leg of the journey through Genoa was "interesting", not least as we used the bus lane for most of it, all the while looking out for orange arrows pointing us left, right or straight ahead. There was only one major "gaff" where we missed a turn, a bit of a hassle, as it was six lanes to our left, through the swathes of traffic. We finally made it to our final destination and hotel. It was quite an emotional finish as our bikes were taken from us and we were presented with a glass of prosecco. There was not a single soul who didn’t cycle the entire way and there was not a single soul who didn’t enter the hotel without a huge smile and a wonderful sense of achievement."
As Paul admitted on his return, "Everyone who took part on the ride had to dig really deep to finish this difficult challenge. But no matter how exhausted we felt at the end of each day's ride (and oh wow, did we feel exhausted!) all of us we were mindful of those back home affected by cancer who would have swapped places with us at the "drop of a hat"; that's what kept us all going."
Each participant had a personal fundraising target of £1,800. However, Paul has recently learned from Macmillan that the anticipated group target has been exceeded, with an astonishing £80,000! having now been received and with further funds still coming in…
"A big thank you to Affinity for their support in his challenge and for the firm’s very generous donation to Macmillan". -Paul
This recent event is just a small element of the firm’s and staff’s aim to support worthy causes. Over the 3 years Affinity has now been in existence, we have actively involved ourselves in the community, supporting worthy charitable causes and assisting others in their life-style choices. In particular, Affinity look to blend the link between our staff, our clients and the various organisations we seek to assist. In addition to benefiting the organisations and charities detailed in the Community section of our website, donations have recently been advanced to Jersey Dyslexia Association. We have also provided support to local children with physical disabilities and more widely, the charity MIND.