As I write this piece today, 15th June, a group of six Silver Travellers, with a combined age of 372 years, are pedaling through the Kent countryside en-route to Glossop in Derbyshire where they plan to arrive six days later. Are they mad? I mean, it’s hardly cycling for softies is it?
Wondering why they were putting themselves through this gruelling ride rather than use their Senior Rail Card (like most of us in their age group) I was intrigued to find out more. So, on a lovely sunny day last week I travelled to Deal – by train – to meet these intrepid cyclists. The challenge is charitable. And a very good cause it is too. Raising money for Reuben’s Retreat, more of which later.
The driving force behind this particular venture is the lovely Sonia Limbrick, Business Development Director of Azamara Club Cruises, one of Silver Travel Advisor’s recommended partners. Having overcome some serious personal health challenges Sonia took an enforced temporary break from the cut and thrust of the cruise world and joined a local cycling group where all of its members are silver cyclists. Set up a few years ago by Tony, who retired at 68 and recently arrived in the area wanted to find like-minded cyclists he placed an ad in the local paper and had a great response, from novice to experienced cyclists. This well-established cycle group now meet every Monday.
“It’s been a great way to meet people, make friends and keep fit” said Tim, one of two males joining the four ladies on this charitable ride. The day before we met the group had done a leisurely 75mile cycle ride as part of their preparation for the big ride. Having noticed the area was rather hilly I asked if this was a bit of a challenge, particularly, perhaps, for Tony, who at 71, is the eldest of the group. “Not at all,” Tim ventured, “Tony shoots up those hills like a rat up a drainpipe, he’s the eldest and fittest of us all”. Very impressive.
Cycling is something I have done in the distant dim past. I remember loving it. The feeling of freedom and getting somewhere under your own steam. But my idea of cycling was definitely cycling for softies – a gentle pootle on a sit-up-and-beg bike with a basket carrying picnics and plenty of refreshments, usually alcoholic. I only ever cycled in sunshine; shorts, shades, floppy hat, not a care in the world. Ah, halcyon days. With their lycra kit, cycling helmets and top-notch road bikes the group are serious cyclists. Not a basket in site. Hmm. I wondered if this puts lapsed cyclists like me off joining an established group, but was immediately assured by everyone that they had all once been like me but had gradually built up their strength and upgraded their equipment as they progressed. They also said each ride was geared to the various levels of fitness and ability to ensure that nobody was discouraged and that all were welcome. Hmm. As I left for Deal Station and they cycled off along the coastal path I was rather envious that I wasn’t part of their group. How nice to be part of a group of interesting, supportive people who had all come together through cycling going on such an exciting adventure and raising money for a wonderful cause. When I got home I dusted down the exercise bike and did 5 minutes. I’ll build up slowly – watch this space.
So why are they doing it?
The ride is in memory of a much-loved little boy, Rueben, who tragically died of a rare and undiagnosed cancer aged 23 months in 2012. His devastated parents, Nicola and Michael Graham, determined they wanted to do something to help parents who find themselves in similar distressing circumstances, started fund-raising in his memory with the aim of opening a retreat. They have worked tirelessly and in such a relatively short time have raised such an amazing amount of money which enabled them to purchase a large building which they are in the process of turning into a retreat where families who have children with life-limiting or life threatening illnesses can take respite breaks and take time to relax, recharge, remember and rebuild.
So please take time to read more about Reuben’s inspirational parents and why they are determined to help other families who find themselves in the devastating position of learning their child is terminally ill.
As Sonia says in her blog, cancer touches all of us. Whether as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or good friend it is unlikely cancer has not touched you, but it is particularly heartbreaking when a child such as Reuben is taken at such a young age. So please, if you can make a contribution – no matter how small – to help build Reuben’s Retreat to support other families, Reuben’s parents would really appreciate your help.
Sonia and crew’s fundraising target was £4,000. As at today, the first day of their challenge, donations stand at £5,668, but they would truly welcome any more donations to help fund this wonderful project.
So let’s hear it for our Silver Cyclists, Sonia, Eve, Tony, Tricia, Tim and Alison – 372 years young – cycling 306 miles in 6 days, a pretty gruelling 50 miles a day without a break.
Good luck Sonia and crew, from everyone here at Silver Towers.
STOP PRESS – CYCLE UPDATE!
This is the amazing mileage our SILVER CYCLISTS covered:
Day 1 – 63, Day 2 – 79, Day 3 – 78, Day 4 – 56, Day 5 – 48 and Day 6 – in extremely wet, cold weather, with huge Derbyshire hills and dreadful cycle tracks which often necessitated pushing their bikes – 23 miles.
£8,285 RAISED AND STILL COUNTING
If you would like to support our Silver Cyclists and Reubens Retreat your donation would be extremely welcome