On Sunday 28 June, over 1000 supporters of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) took to the saddle to take part in the charity’s “Raid Local” cycle challenge, the first of our multi-participation events for socially distant times. Led by CPT Patron Mike Tindall MBE, Ambassador Iain Balshaw MBE and CEO Will Cook, the team took on multiple testing hill climbs throughout the day, and have - so far - raised an astonishing £250,000 (including Gift Aid) for CPT’s vital research into a cure for Parkinson’s. And climbing!

Inspired by the charity’s iconic “Raid Alpine” challenge that was due to start that day but postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, our original group of 44 individuals grew to an incredible team of over 300 riders, all of whom attempted to complete the distance of 137km on their local roads, with 3,700 meters of ascent, to emulate the first and most challenging day of Raid Alpine. Participants from across the UK, USA, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Monaco took part, by creating then riding their own individual routes, all close to home. And a host of celebrities joined hundreds of other CPT riders taking part in an identical virtual cycle challenge, over the same distance and ascent, using the well-known home cycling app ‘Zwift’. 

Our team included many inspirational individuals. They included six people living with Parkinson’s, who showed amazing commitment, drive and some humour to take on this epic challenge: Scottish supporters Janet Kerr and Stuart Robb (with fellow CPT supporter Kirsteen Ross) took on the brutal 220m Falkland Hill between Dundee and Edinburgh 17 times to achieve the distance and ascent;  CPT Ambassador Alison Anderson, her husband John and their team of fellow “Cyclopaths” took on some of the toughest hills in Gloucestershire to get there; Dr Claire Lehman, a GP diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago, completed her route alongside partner Michael on many of Dorset’s finest hills; and Cure Parkinson’s enthusiast Simon Cooper took on the toughest that the Chiltern Hills had to offer, alongside his “Equipe Escargot” (their motto being “never knowingly overtaken anyone”). Finally, CPT was delighted that the Chairman of Parkinson’s UK, Gary Shaughnessy, who lives with Parkinson’s himself, made the grade (and distance) by climbing the short sharp hill near Kingsclere, between Reading and Andover, 52 times!  All of this fantastic team, and all our brilliant other riders, were raising funds and awareness for CPT; Gary in addition was raising funds for Parkinson’s UK, the worthy UK charity supporting the whole Parkinson’s community.  CPT CEO Will Cook collaborated closely with Gary throughout this fundraising challenge, just as CPT collaborates closely with Parkinson’s UK where the charities’ research interests coincide. There is much to celebrate here.

Our “Raid Local” was also hosted virtuall’ by Zwift, and saw over 700 supporters join one or all three stages of the challenge, from their smart trainers at home, to ride alongside a team of sporting legends including Olympic and World Champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, CPT Ambassador & Rugby World Cup winner Iain Balshaw, rugby legends Shane Williams MBE and Austin Healey, British Olympic skeleton racing champion Amy Williams MBE, English professional golfer Lee Westwood OBE, and TV and radio broadcaster Kirsty Gallacher. The ride was extremely tough (virtually) but all had time to joke and chat throughout the day, with several Insta Live broadcasts involving all the celebrities during the ride.

CPT CEO Will Cook took part in the “Raid Local” on the extreme Whiteleaf Hill in Buckinghamshire, which saw nearly 60 CPT riders at some stage throughout the day, said:

“What a fantastic day! The Raid Local was so much harder than I expected - 12 hours of rain, pain, wind, sleet, sunshine - but all I remember is blue skies, amazing supporters and inspirational CPT riders on the hills. A huge thank you to all 1000 riders who took part in this epic challenge, including CPT Patron Mike Tindall and his team of sporting legends. Together we have raised an incredible amount for research into a cure for Parkinson’s – I am proud and humbled by the massive support this event has received.  Because of you, I have even more confidence that we can prevail, together, to cure Parkinson’s. Sincerely, thank you, to all involved.”

The whole of CPT would like to take this opportunity to say a huge and heartfelt “thank you” to all the brilliant cyclists and wonderful supporters who took part in the inaugural “Raid Local”. We've been blown away by everyone's determination and generosity - what an amazing day!

The funds raised from Raid Local will go towards CPT’s pioneering and vital research into a cure for Parkinson’s. If you would like to support this event you can still do so here. Thank you!

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust would like to thank Zwift for hosting the virtual Raid Local and Rapha for their support and publicity. Thank you to our lead sponsor, Peninsula Petroleum, as well as our other corporate sponsors wattbike, Marmot Tours, Alpha FX, Niftylift, LSH Investment Management, Marks & Clerk, Christchurch Investment Management, Bray & Krais, Simmons & Simmons, Taqarabu Hybrid Communications, Levmet, Wordley Partnership, Savills, Sentient Communications, Lapwing and Compariqo.  All these sponsors have donated freely to the charity to support this challenge; in addition, their names appear on our unique, beautiful “Jersey of Hope”, which will shortly be available to the public to buy, with proceeds going to CPT .  Please click here to have a look.

Finally, for the sake of our goal to cure Parkinson’s, the great success of Raid Local should not be a “one-off”.  The event forms part of CPT’s “Raid Series”, involving similar and expanded rides throughout 2021 and beyond, across the UK, France, Switzerland and (depending upon routing) Spain. If you would like to register interest in getting involved, in any capacity, please click here and follow through to the relevant form: you will also be registering interest in the Jersey of Hope, as a first step, but without any commitment whatsoever.