|76 Riders, 150 Wheels, 2 Youngs Pubs, 2 Countries, 250 Miles, 48Hrs, 2 Boats|
Against all odds – cycling’s latest fan took part
On Sunday 6th May 2013 Mel Simmonds was one of a team of 75 people who cycled into Guildford Rugby Club having completed 250 miles and 11000 ft of climbing over three days on the 2nd annual Halow 250 charity ride, raising £60k in the process. What makes Mel's achievement even more remarkable is that only months ago she suffered horrendous injuries and was expected to struggle to walk, let alone cycle anywhere....
A dream holiday on the Ionian island of Kefalonia in western Greece, with her boyfriend, Jay, in July 2010 saw Mel Simmonds fulfilling a dream to visit this idyllic island. Little did they know that the trip would end in disaster with Mel suffering multiple injuries and being repatriated to the UK for emergency medical treatment.
Back in the UK, Mel spent six months in a wheelchair and was unable to work or study. She has since undergone several operations and quickly had to come to the realisation that her injuries would be life changing and that there would be things that she would never be able to do.
Through many other programmes and initiatives halow now supports over 150 young people, with learning disabilities on their journey into and through adult life. The halow project is a charity committed to supporting young people with a learning disability to have the same life choices and chances as any other young person.
Since she started working for the charity, Mel has been involved with several fundraising activities and in May 2013, Mel’s love of cycling was ignited when she took part in halow’s 250 Challenge. After some thought and worry about her long term injuries and discussing the challenge with the organisers she and her colleague at halow decided to commit to the challenge.
The first obstacle was bike selection, Mel’s network of friends came to her aid and with their help and some back up advice from George and Mark from the 2Boats team, she settled on the Cube Peloton Pro Triple 2013 road bike. Having got the bike, Mel set up her training plan that took place across what turned out to be a harsh winter, but this didn’t stop her. The ride organisers were again on hand to help with advice putting together a programme with Mel carefully building up her road mileage and helping her to gain in confidence on the busy roads of Surrey. As the months moved on and gradually the days got longer the 2Boats team arranged ride outs which Mel took part enabling her to meet other cyclist before the main event who rode at similar she could ride the event alongside. The culmination in the ride outs was a well-supported Good Friday ride to Brighton which took in Ditchling Beacon Mel passed with flying colours and finished feeling confident in meeting the challenge head on.
The event brought Damon Hill (halow Patron) to launch the ride, the best weather of the year, 75 cyclists, 25 support crew and various media outlets including Sky Sports who ran a feature on Damon and the charity ride throughout the day. The first stage was a 75 mile ride through Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex finishing at Portsmouth Dockyard and a welcome drinks reception for all on the Warrior Warship. Followed by an escorted ride through the naval dockyards to a comfortable bed and an overnight sleep courtesy of Brittany ferries and the thought of an early start and 110miles of cycling to Caen.
The final leg was 50miles up through the beautiful Sussex country side and allowed time for a leisurely ride and for all the cyclists to savour what they had achieved. They finished with a mass ride in to Guildford Rugby club and an emotional welcome home party attended by many of the young people at halow and of course family and friends. Plus a great deal of pleasure in raising over £60,000.
Mel's courage and determination have set a benchmark for anyone who has endured such a horrific experience:
Following the success of last year’s event, 2Boats will once again be organising the halow250 over the first May bank holiday weekend, to raise essential funding for the halow project so come and join us for a great charity bike ride.
October 21, 2013