On Saturday 1st July Rachel Gibson and Netty Martin began their incredible 500 mile cycle challenge from Murrayfield in Edinburgh to Twickenham in London to raise money for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

Rachel was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's 8 years ago and in 2013 cycled from London to Paris. This time inspired by The British & Irish Lions support for CPT, herself and close friend Netty decided to cycle the route from Murrayfield to Twickenham in six days covering over 80 miles a day! Here is Rachel's story.

                                                                                                                                                                    Murrayfield to Twickenham by Bike

Having had successful Deep Brain Stimulation surgery 9 months ago and being inspired by the support of the British and Irish Lions for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, a friend of mine, Netty Martin and I decided to challenge ourselves to a 500 mile cycle from Murrayfield Rugby Stadium in Edinburgh to Twickenham Rugby Stadium in West London.

After training regularly for the last 20 weeks, we travelled to Edinburgh and commenced our epic ride on Saturday 1st July, 2017.

Day 1 was a ride of two halves. The first 30 miles was a picturesque flat ride past the historic sites of Edinburgh and the beautiful coastline. The second 30 miles was a hilly ride through the Scottish Uplands, fabulous views and lots of hills. One ascent was from a beautiful cove at sea level to the top of the ridge, approximately 300 metres above sea level…it seemed to go on for ever! We spent the night at Chain Bridge House B and B near Berwick Upon Tweed. Our hosts were very hospitable and generously donated to our fundraising, along with washing our kit!

Day 2 was hard for me as my Parkinson’s symptoms became worse. It was very hilly and windy and my left leg began to do it’s own thing which meant sometimes I was pedalling on my tip toes and other times my foot would shoot forwards off the pedal. This made pedalling quite erratic and it felt like I was pedalling with only my better leg. However we kept battling on and got to Hexham in time for a late supper.

Day 3 was always going to be a challenge, over 100 miles to York. I decided that increasing my Parkinson’s medication and brain stimulation would give me the best chance of reaching York before dark. Despite the first 50 miles being very hilly and morale beginning to diminish, we successfully reached York and stayed with good friends and their very friendly dog.

Day 4 was our easiest ride, a virtually flat 90 miles. We enjoyed some of the best cakes and reached the home of more good friends in Lincoln before our overnight bags arrived. So we could freshen up before dinner, we borrowed PJs, which we then wore on a whirlwind car tour around the sites of Lincoln that evening. It’s not every day you have your photo taken in PJs outside the historic Lincoln Cathedral!

Day 5 was another flattish day, heading for Wellingborough. The weather was hot and sunny and we were finding cycling a little boring by this point. It was another 90+ miler, but we kept going with regular stops of cake or chocolate and loads of cold drinks. We stopped at a small village called Foston for cake at their Community Hall Coffee Morning and their interest in our ride was heart warming. Throughout the day, our support vehicle stopped regularly to wave us on and we ended the day with Spaghetti Bolognaise, watching the sun go down from a lakeside terrace.

Day 6 should have been easy. More hills but less than 80 miles to cycle and the last leg. The end was in sight! However, it was very hot and sunny and I was more tired than I realised. My leg played up again which was frustrating for both Netty and I, as we just wanted to get to the end. Fortunately we were joined by three cycling friends during this section and their support and encouragement was invaluable, especially when we hit the hills and the busy London traffic. The CPT office, based in Rickmansworth came out with supplies of cold water and cheered us on as we passed and another friend surprised us by cheering us on as we passed her workplace. After over 500 miles of cycling, we reached Twickenham. Our families were there to congratulate us and we all shared a celebratory glass of fizz!

We were exhausted but glad to have reached the end without too many dark moments or mechanical failures. We didn’t even have a puncture! We are so grateful to all our family and friends who supported us in so many ways and are delighted to have raised over £16,000 which will go towards The Cure Parkinson's Trust's research into treatments that will slow, stop and reverse Parkinson’s. If you would still like to donate, our online fundraising page will remain open for a few more weeks.

                                                                                                                                                             

Rachel & Netty thank you so much - you are AMAZING!

Feeling inspired by Rachel’s story? Check out the cycling challenges we have on offer, or contact Lottie to discuss ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                        

Rachel and Netty setting off from Murrayfield at the start of their 500 mile cycle

Lots of hills and beautiful views 

With 60 miles left to go Rachel & Netty are joined by CPT's Suzanne (left)

And then a couple more friends Karen and Ali (centre) on the final leg of their challenge 

Rachel and Netty at the finish line in Twickenham after cycling 500 miles in 6 days!