Stevenage’s heroic Twin Town riders show true character and courage during gruelling charity ride across Europe
- Credit: Archant
The Comet has been tracking Stevenage’s inspirational Twin Towns cyclists as they continue they dig deep on the most gruelling stage of their ride across Europe to raise £100,000 for Lister Hospital.
The riders for the Twin Towns 1000k cause, set up to fundraise for the hospital, were given a warm send-off in Stevenage last week as they embarked on their 1,000km ride through Europe.
They were waved off by friends, family and well-wishers at The Cromwell Hotel in the Old Town, before being supported by the Lloyds team at Bank House in Primett Road – who chose the organisation as one of their charities to support.
The heroic band of brothers include Ade Morris, Ben Austin, Brian Hopgood, Darren Heath, Graham Hoare, Peter van Poolgeest, Pete Woolmer, Stephen Hibberd, Steve Clarkson and Steve Watkins – have split the gruelling 770-mile ride into three main stages.
The first stage has been across scenic home counties countryside and onto Harwich Docks.
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The terrain tested the riders with some reasonable climbs near Colchester, before they headed to the overnight ferry to the Netherlands.
The second leg started with breakfast on the boat before treading on new ground in Holland and heading south-east towards the German border.
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With Holland generally being flat it was on to Germany, with a minimal climb all the way through to Stevenage’s twin town of Ingelheim, west of Frankfurt along the Rhine.
They were met with warmth from the locals, with the group handing over a framed team shirt as a gesture of their appreciation.
The brave cyclists are hoping to raise enough money to open a prostate cancer treatment centre after the NHS successfully helped Graham in his battle against the disease.
Heading south from Ingelheim, their route followed the Franco-German border past Strasbourg, falling just short of Switzerland before heading south-west to Autun – Stevenage’s French twin town, which they are expected to reach this weekend.
The battling lads have faced everything from torrential rain to heatwave temperatures and debilitating climbs during their final stage – but they’ve shown true reserves of courage, character and mental strength – as well as displaying impressive physical qualities.
Captain Steve Watkins, reflecting on hardest part of the final stage of their ride, said: “Day seven done and dusted – and boy was that one tough.
“In distance terms it was the shortest day of the ride so far, and the expectation was it would be smashed.
“What wasn’t taken into account though was that France would throw the works at us in terms of weather and road conditions.
“However us Brits are made of stern stuff though and they will need to try harder than that!
“Again, temperatures very quickly rose into the 30s, and combined with the hills, we were struggling to come to terms with it – well I was anyway.
“But we fought back and soldiered on and as a group got through the 70 miles plus.
“A big hand to all the team, both on and off the bike today, we really had to dig deep. More of the same tomorrow I fear.”
The lads have been moved to see the feedback and support from everyone back in the UK and they have asked everyone to keep sharing their donation links. Plucky Steve has been up against it as much as anyone and now had six punctures, and is showing huge courage in refusing to be beaten in their aim of raising as much as they can.
Fellow team member Ade, who is showing true grit and a nice dash of gallows humour, added: “The hills are killing me. They’re brutal – next time I go to get on a bike shoot me.”
Graham added: “Day seven ticked off, the hardest yet for so many reasons. There was a hot wind in your face and there were hills, need I say more.”
With such character and resolve the lads will make it to the finish line soon.
To sponsor Stevenage’s cycle heroes, have a look at justgiving.com/fundraising/twintowns1000.
To follow their exploits, look up Twin Towns on Facebook or follow them on Twitter using the handle @twintowns1000.
Video by Engage Plus Marketing.