The day had finally arrived. The day for the Cyclone Challenge Ride. Saturday, July 03, the day mobiliser Alison Yarnall and her friend Naomi were going to ride their bicycles for 108 miles (173,8 km). The day they wanted to raise money for a good cause. The day they raised money for Parkinson’s UK.
The reason why Alison wanted to raise money for Parkinson’s UK by racing 108 miles can be explained by both her interest in cycling and her job. She works and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her husband (a general practitioner – GP) and 2 young children. To keep herself mobilised, Alison rides her bike, runs, practices yoga and runs around after her kids. Her husband is also a keen cyclist, and they are working on their children’s interest… Alison is a member of the Mobilise-D team at Newcastle University, where she also completed her PhD in 2013. She is the principal investigator of the Parkinson’s Disease Clinical Validation Study at the clinical site at Newcastle University. Both Alison and her friend Naomi are consultants who run Parkinson’s disease clinics, and they are passionate about improving care for people with Parkinson’s. As a clinical academic, Alison has also been fortunate enough to receive funding from Parkinson’s UK for her research studies. Parkinson’s UK provides information, support and advice for people with Parkinson’s within the UK. They therefore decided to raise money for this worthwhile cause.
Alison and Naomi met up at Newcastle Falcons’ Rugby Stadium. It was dull but dry summer weather in Newcastle upon Tyne early in the morning, with dark clouds on the horizon. Both were well prepared for the 108 miles Cyclone Challenge. The race had been in their minds during training the previous months.
“Every Saturday (clinical on-call shifts and family allowing), a group of us girls cycle around beautiful Northumberland. The group is largely made up of doctors within different specialties working in Newcastle, and we all find that cycling is an effective way to deal with the stressors of the job. We generally cycle around 60 miles in the summer months (30-40 miles in the winter). To challenge ourselves, my friend Naomi and I decided to take up training for the 108-mile Cyclone.”
Alison and Naomi met up at 7:15 am and cycled to the start of the race. As the race progressed, the dark clouds came closer and closer. “There was a bit of a deluge in the early afternoon, and we got pretty soaked, but as it was fairly warm, we soon dried off, and it did not dampen our spirits,” said Alison.
The race went through Northumberland National Park, an area with a rich history, and a scenic beauty with an outstanding green landscape. There were plenty of feed stations along the way, and Alison and Naomi stocked up on cake, bananas, and energy bars. “The atmosphere was great throughout the race – everyone was keen to talk as you rode along,” said Alison. After having cycled 96 miles, they came to the toughest climb “The Ryals”. “It felt pretty tough, and I was glad to get to the top,” said Alison. Nevertheless, Alison managed to finish 2nd of the women who did the 108-mile race. “My legs were pretty tired after finishing, and I struggled to carry my children upstairs for their baths!”
Alison’s and Naomi’s friends, family, work colleagues, and even patients were hugely generous with their donations, and they were thrilled to have raised over £1600 for this fantastic cause.