Cycling Challenge For Derby Swimming Teacher
A Derby swimming teacher and her husband have just returned from a gruelling fund raising challenge which saw them complete a 500km cycle trek across Vietnam and Cambodia.
Catherine Gayler (29), who teaches swimming at Lonsdale Pool in Mickleover and Gayton Pool in Littleover, and her husband Alan, a senior train conductor with East Midlands Trains, joined 23 other novice and more experienced cyclists for the challenge. The couple’s efforts have raised nearly £3,000 for Crohn’s and Colitis UK who fund research into the diseases for which, as yet, there is no explanation of cure. Alan (31) was diagnosed with Crohn’s five years ago and is able to control it through diet rather than medication.
Catherine and Alan found a company last year who organises cycling tours for fund raisers. She explained: “We decided we wanted to do something more unusual to raise money for the charity and opted to fund the trip ourselves so that all the money raised could go to research into Crohn’s and Colitis. “Everyone has been very generous, especially our family, friends and colleagues at Lonsdale and Gayton pools and at East Midlands Trains. The parents of children that I teach to swim have been incredibly supportive. “Once we had made the decision, we started training which included cycling from our home in East Leake to work which was 17 miles for Alan and 19 miles each way for me as well as going to the gym.”
The couple, who have two daughters age nine and two, started the adventure in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. “We arrived during Chinese New Year so the city was pretty empty but the country roads were chaotic. “Most people seem to travel by moped and it was not unusual for a family of four to be balanced on one vehicle. I even saw one with a pig tied to the back! “They come at you from every angle including the wrong way up the hard shoulder and it was a pretty frightening experience at times.”
The group rode for around 75k a day with their luggage taken on ahead to the next hotel or hostel by tour guides. “We started each day at 5.30am and got to the next hotel for about 6pm so they were long days. “My lowest point was when we had to tackle 100km in one day. I crashed into another rider which it left me very shaken and I cried most of the way round. “The people were so friendly though – especially the children – who wanted to ‘high five’ us as we passed and that certainly lifted everyone’s spirits.”
The cycle challenge finished in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the couple spent a few days sightseeing before returning home. “The temples were breath taking and we saw quite a lot of sites including the Killing Fields and a former Khmer Rouge prison which was a sobering experience and certainly puts life into perspective. “Now that we are home and back to normal life, it all seems like a distant dream and I can only really remember the good bits rather than the challenges of the cycle ride, the pain and the state of the toilets! “Overall, it has been an amazing experience and we are both delighted that we have been able to raise so much money for such a worthwhile cause.”