I’m back in the UK and yes, I did it, I cycled 450km through Hanoi to Saigon. Met some amazing people and saw parts of Vietnam I wouldn’t have seen as a tourist on foot or in a car to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
I dare you to step out of your comfort zone and take on a similar challenge!
We started off with a taster ride in Hanoi to get used to the bikes, which were assigned to us for the next couple of days. After a short ride we stopped for a refreshing coconut drink with the group overlooking the lake. I thought, wow, I hope the rest of the challenge will be like this – but of course that idea/hope was quick to be crushed.
Some of those cycling days were the most physically challenging of my life! Oh, those hills, those never ending hills. The 11km stretch of non-stop uphill cycling up the Hai Van Pass has definitely altered my perception and definition of what a hill is. I look back at my training and laugh at both myself and the ‘slopes’ of Milton Keynes. No amount of training could have prepared me for those hills, not in Milton Keynes anyway.
It was during moments like that where I found myself questioning my sanity, asking myself ‘What am I doing on a mountain in this weather so far away from home?!’ Feeling tired, exhausted, drained. But then you remember all those days spent fundraising, the conversations you’ve had with people who’ve been affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the kind and generous people who have supported you, the amazing work Alzheimer’s Research UK are doing to find a cure or prevention for Alzheimer’s. And then something happens inside that makes you smile through the exhaustion, gain a new kind of energy and strength and before you know it you’ve completed the challenge!
A beautiful thing
As a first time fundraiser carrying out a sponsored anything it was a beautiful thing to see how powerful and poignant each sponsorship becomes in moments of adversity. I look back and think ‘Wow! What a crazy experience, I can’t believe I did that! Me! The person who has always been quite bad at any sport!’ It just goes to show that anyone can do it – If I managed it, so can you!
I dare you to step out of your comfort zone and take on a similar challenge! I promise you, the journey of training, fundraising and the emotions for completing such an experience will stay with you for a very long time! And you might just catch the cycling bug and be itching to do another cycling challenge like I am!
Finally, I would just like to take a moment to say thank you to those who sponsored me on this crazy challenge, you were out there with me on that mountain pushing me to continue on, you have helped raise much needed funds for dementia research, to find a cure or prevention for Alzheimer’s disease and in all honesty – I couldn’t have done it without your support! Thank You!
About the author
Ozge 'Oz' Gunes is from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. She graduated in 2011 and currently works for Rexam Beverage Can as a laboratory analyst.
Fundraising is completely new to Oz and searching for an opportunity to push herself to new levels, she decided to sign up for the fundraising challenge of a lifetime: to cycle 450km in Vietnam.