Can I really cycle 450km across Vietnam?


By Ozge Gunes | Tuesday 17 September 2013

I’ve never really taken part in a challenge for charity before; to be honest I’m not one to indulge in strenuous exercise much either. But recently I found myself signing up to do a 450km cycle challenge across Vietnam for Alzheimer’s Research UK and am about to embark on a journey that will test and push some emotional, mental and physical boundaries.

I now find myself confronting questions like what am I doing? At what point was this a good idea? Cycling uphill in high temperatures and humidity – can I really do this? Eek!

Making a difference

Looking back at the moment I stumbled upon the Charity Challenge website, in big bold writing it read: ‘Challenge yourself to make a difference’. I wanted to make a difference, however small or big to dementia research.

After seeing the array of treks, bike rides and mountain climbs that were available across many countries for people to raise money and awareness, I felt inspired yet scared to take part in one myself. In all honesty, my choice for biking was ‘At least I’ll get to sit down…’

I’ve always been indifferent towards exercising, if I get tired, I simply stop. I wouldn’t be able to mentally push myself to jog that extra 30 seconds after even two minutes of jogging. So how would I cycle four to six hours a day consecutively for 10 days? Well firstly, since I’ve begun my training, the words tired and pain have found new meaning. Seeing my attitude to exercise change has been refreshing and as a result has kept me motivated to keep going.

Knowing I am on a mission to raise awareness and much-needed funds for dementia research has helped me keep focused.

I’m lucky and grateful to not know anyone living with dementia but can understand how difficult it must be for the individual and their families.

The fact that we strive throughout our lives to create memories and experiences only to then lose them and essentially a part of who we are to a disease that has no cures or preventions is frightening. It’s the fear of a loved one being diagnosed that has driven me into spreading awareness and much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK – to help find a cure or ways to prevent these diseases.

Fundraising this past year has been very interesting, eventful and even emotional. It has been amazing to see such great support and generosity from people. Hearing so many heartfelt stories has reinforced my aim for this challenge and if I can do my bit to add to the bigger picture of a dementia-free life for our loved ones, then I will cycle a measly 450km… uphill… in high heat and humidity…

Visit Ozge’s donation page –

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About the author

Ozge Gunes

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.