Our journey started in late 2014. A friend had been diagnosed with MS a year or so before, and while the diagnosis was life changing and frightening for him and his family, what stood out for us was his strength and determination to make sure his life was not going to be defined by MS. If he could react so positively to this diagnosis, we could come together to do something that shows how inspirational our friend is to us.
Fast forward to early 2015 and PeloTonyAdaMS was born through mutual friendship and our shared support of Arsenal Football Club (with the exception of one very patient Liverpool fan). Our team name was a stroke of genius from one of our partners and reflects the cycling challenge, the most successful recent captain of Arsenal and, of course, the MS Trust.
Getting stuck in to the fundraising
Throughout 2016, we organised pub quizzes, a go-kart tournament and a film evening, and secured shirt sponsorship from local businesses (Drivers and Norris, Avamore Capital, Piebury Corner, The Matchday shop and The Tollington Arms). Thanks to wonderful support from so many, our fundraising total steadily grew.
As 2016 went on, it was clear that we were going to hit and surpass our target of £12,000. Now the focus was on the ride itself and before we knew it, we were on the start line at Crystal Palace. It would be fair to say that adrenalin was pumping and anxiety levels were high; so much had gone into getting to this stage.
Pedalling to Paris
The ride was challenging, in many different ways. The first day we cycled 95 miles. As the clock ticked down to our ferry departure from Dover, we pushed on despite pain, punctures and torrential rain. Day two and the poor weather continued as we set off from Calais at around 8am. The day brightened, but the scale of the physical challenge became apparent to all of us. Have we trained enough? Are we going to have to endure the shame of being collected by the race organisers for being too slow?
The days blurred into one another, legs were screaming, tyres were punctured and bottoms were sore but despite the challenges, we made it. All of us. This was not a race, at least not against anyone else. It was a personal challenge that we entered into as a team of friends and as a team, we all arrived at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, together.
Elation and achievement
There was such a feeling of elation and achievement as we were met by the warm support of Parisians and loved ones. We all felt a lot of emotion and to share that together was unique. As a team, we experienced some of the most challenging physical demands of our lives. We also laughed, a lot.
We’re all grateful to have achieved this. To have done so for such a worthy cause makes it all the more rewarding. We’re also grateful to our friend, who was the catalyst to bring us together and inspire us to do this. We wouldn’t have had this experience without him, so we owe him a big thank you.