Emma McNeill’s story
With 3 weeks to go time has flown but so much has been achieved. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, motivation and support of Team Scotland.
I have continued to train regularly and attend my club rides every Saturday with a view to clocking up as many miles as possible on the bike before the big event. I am enthusiastically following the Tour of Britain to inspire me along the way!
Fundraising efforts have been hugely successful and we are rapidly closing in on our target with two team members exceeding the £1000 maker already. Last weekend we took over the HSBC branch on Princess Street where a men’s leg waxing session raised valuable funds for Alzheimer Scotland and gave us a brilliant opportunity to raise the profile of our challenge and lots of team photos to share. I am delighted to be half way to my target and confident I will reach it in no time.
I was lucky enough to be one of four members of our team attended a day visit to The HSBC UK National Cycling Centre in Manchester where we participated in a track experience on the velodrome – a truly terrifying and exhilarating experience! It was a memory we will cherish forever and a true privilege. We spent the day touring the facility, learning from the experts – British Cycling Head Coach Iain Dyer no less – and meeting other Road to Birmingham team members.
Thoughts are now turning to kit requirements, final fitness push and taking every opportunity to get on the bike!
I am so lucky to have been selected to participate in this challenge giving me opportunity to fundraise, complete an inspiring physical challenge but mostly to make new friends and connections along the way from colleagues to charity representatives to commercial partners and enthusiastic supporters!
Follow our the SCOTLAND TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALSCOTLAND
You can support Emma by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Emma McNeill | Business Development Manager, RBWM North | email@example.com
David Cowie’s story
Okay so we have four weeks left to go how am I progressing. Well , I was off the bike for 2 weeks at the beginning of August as I took a well-earned break in USA, I did a lot of walking both in New York and Orlando to keep my fitness levels up. On returning to UK I ended up side-lined by Gastric Flu for four days so that wasn’t the best return after that I steadily built up my training again till this week I felt ready to start endurance runs as well as my usual cycle to work. This week I complete to long runs the first on Tuesday from Motherwell to Edinburgh and back covering 100K and then on Thursday I cycled from Motherwell up to Leadhills following the A70 covering a distance of 120k with a 1200 foot accent.
The benefits are really starting to show now everyone is remarking in how much fitter I look I have lost a stone in weight my blood pressure has returned to normal after several years of being high and I have dropped my waist size from 39 inches to 35 inches. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to get on their bike even if it’s just for leisure runs on your days off, you will soon see the benefits.
You can support David by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
David Cowie | Customer Service Advisor, RBWM Contact Centre | firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Angus’s story
The Road to Birmingham – never a dull moment!
In late September, as part of the Big Pedal events in partnership with British Cycling, four HSBC UK regional teams will be converging on Birmingham, having accepted a challenge to cycle from their respective start points in aid of Alzheimer’s charities.
Stuart Angus, who is Head of the INA Edinburgh Office, is part of the Scottish team that have the longest way to go. Starting in the Scottish borders, he and his team mates face three days of 140 km a day, including all the hills that are in the way between Scotland and Birmingham. Here, Stuart tells a little bit more of the challenge.
“I was really delighted to be accepted as part of Team Scotland, but also, importantly, to represent Group Internal Audit on this challenge. I have done a bit of road cycling, but never three consecutive days of over 140 km a day. All the team members have started their individual training, including getting advice through HSBC’s link with British Cycling.
“I usually do a lot of cycling in the spring and summer, as the nights get lighter, but this year I was hindered by a recurrence of a knee injury, so I was going to write the year off. However, the Road to Birmingham provides an incentive to get some miles in and also to raise money for a charity close to me.
“We lost my dad to Alzheimer’s and, while it was tragic to see his decline, there were some lighter moments. We got a fairly early diagnosis, as my Mum noticed the small changes in behaviour and was able to get Dad assessed. When it was confirmed, it was great how the National Health Service, the charity and volunteers all provided support, so he could live at home for as long as possible.
“One day, when Dad was in the early stages (at the stage where you find socks in the fridge and food in the sock drawer) he went through to cook some pork chops for tea. After about 30 minutes, Mum was a bit concerned when nothing had appeared from the kitchen and so she went through to find a very puzzled Dad with everything prepared, except no pork chops under the grill – and they were nowhere to be found. Afterwards, we had great fun doing what has now become an Angus family legend, the Great Pork Chop Hunt. It was obviously important that we found them, as we did not want the chops to go slowly off and smell the house out. After a huge search of the house, in which we found loads of missing stuff, they never did re-appear and we still have no idea what happened to them. The best guess is that Dad must have gone into the garden for a seat and taken them with him and then forgot. Therefore either the local cats, or, more likely, some of the local seagulls had a very good tea that night.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge and will be posting a blog about how the training is going (very badly at the moment) and also when we are finally on the road. I know people always give generously to charities but it would be great if we could raise lots of money for this very deserving cause.”
Just in case of doubt, Dull is a small hamlet near Aberfeldy in Scotland. Apart from the name, its closest claim to fame is that J K Rowling has a house nearby, where she would have written at least some bits of the Harry Potter books.
Follow our the SCOTLAND TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALSCOTLAND
You can support Stuart by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Stuart Angus | Head of Edinburgh Office, Global Functions | email@example.com
Stuart Davis’s story
I'm a seasoned cyclist having started racing when I was 16 and progressed through time trialling, road racing, mountain bike XC and track over the next 26 years. However following the birth of our 2 children the time available to train enough to compete just disappeared. My Wife and I also both work so frankly even normal life is challenging enough...I'm sure this is the same story for many families! Since I am a type-1 Diabetic the exercise I do has a profound impact on my quality of life. I had to do something drastic to keep myself well balanced since everyone around me is affected by this condition, not just myself. I live 50 miles from the Stirling office so cycling to work wasn't feasible but the possibility of relocating to the Edinburgh office existed. So four years ago I applied for the move and it was approved. I also got a new Commuter bike (a Cube Editor) and started cycling to the office, a 25-mile daily commute. The time it uses up would have been spent in a car, bus or train anyway so this makes the most of my day.
I now feel great again, much happier with my life and much healthier as a result. I have also surprised myself with how fit I can get riding regularly over even short distances, the key word being 'regularly'. Not long ago I managed to get out again with the race team from Edinburgh Road Club and managed to keep up with them. I did about 35 miles at an average of 24mph. Top speed on the flat was 33mph which pleased me immensely even though it hurt a lot!!
When I saw the Road to Birmingham event email, I applied because I wanted to meet up with like-minded HSBC cyclists and complete a challenge together. I get a buzz when team-work produces good results and raising money for charity along with the adventure of the bike ride was something I wanted to do. I have nothing but praise for the other Team Scotland members and even getting my legs waxed last weekend was well...'OK' despite the pain. I won't be doing that again!!! But nevertheless it gave me the opportunity to stand in the middle of Princes Street (Edinburgh), bucket in hand, asking for cash from complete strangers. We made almost £100 for 90 mins work. I was really pleased with the amount and amazed at peoples generosity, thrusting notes into the bucket.
I don't know anyone within my family who has Alzheimers but it certainly affects those who do since the people that look after them suffer almost as much. I can tell you this from first hand conversations with those who donated since most of them thanked us for our efforts. It's a good cause.
The training for me has, to be honest, not been going that well lately. Whilst I am still commuting, the longer rides I need to do are not happening as often as I want. I know I can do 50 miles without too much trouble and the speed and strength are there also but we have to hit about 85 miles a day for 3 days which is going to need lots of steady state riding. I know the last few weeks before the event will have to be disciplined and the kids will have to play on their own for a few hours :-) I am therefore planning to do 60 miles/day over the next 2 weekends which I think will either finish me off or give me just enough stamina to do the distance. Getting out early is key to making this work.
The Diabetes pretty much becomes a 'passenger' during training rides, at least that's what I hope for. I use an Insulin pump which I wear all the time. The pump allows me to program it with different doses in advance of any major athletic activity (> 1 hour) and so long as I'm careful, learning from previous rides and experiences, I get by really well. The fact is that exercise and Diabetes go hand in hand and rather than avoid it I recommend to anyone in my position to go for it, starting slowly and building up to whatever level you want. I have never seen this condition as a blocker but merely something that needs a little TLC before spinning the wheels. So right now when I do a long ride I switch to a special daily 'exercise' pattern and also reduce my background 'basal' rate insulin by 35%, 2 hours before the ride starts. After the ride is over I take a full 24 hours to replenish my glucagon stores in my liver and then I return my doses back to normal. I do have to test a lot but it's a minor inconvenience compared to the benefit of eating much more 'recovery' food!! Being analytical at work does make this a bit easier to manage.
HSBC has been great to me these last few years. Allowing me to move office, providing a tax free bike and working from home (when necessary) has given me improved quality of life despite all the challenges of parenthood. It's a pleasure for me to give back for this event, raising money for one of HSBC's chosen charities.
Follow our the SCOTLAND TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALSCOTLAND
You can support Stuart by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Stuart Davis | Global Head of Process Re-engineering for Distributed Compute | firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Hall’s story
In 1985, age 14, I took up cycling mainly because a couple of my friends had recently done so and if I didn’t do it as well then I wouldn’t of had anyone to hang around with. My Dad found and bought me a 2nd hand racing bike, it was a Raleigh Competition equipped with Campagnolo parts and a “proper” leather Brooks saddle. I joined Derby Mercury our local cycling club and started to go out on the Sunday Club runs, led by the older members of the club these rides were typically 60-90 miles in distance and always included a great café stop.
The older riders were all supportive but also kept us youngsters in line and we learnt the skills required to ride safely on the road and in particular in a bunch without causing crashes. I remember now the rollicking I got when I got out the saddle for a climb and allowed my cadence to pause thus nearly making the rider behind me hit my back wheel!
As I got fitter and more into Cycling I started to ride the club 10 mile time trials (known as 10’s) which were held throughout the spring and summer on a Tuesday night. My first ever time was 30:30, I shall never forget the pain and also the feeling of disappointment of being caught by several riders each of who started behind me at one minute intervals. It certainly gave me some motivation to train more and train harder. By the end of the season I was consistently doing 27 minute 10’s and my weekly mileage was always in the 100-150 mile range.
By the following spring, after a hard winter and dispensing with the Brooks saddle for a much cooler “turbo” saddle, I did my first 10 of the year and recorded my first ever sub 26 min time, by the end of the season I was consistently doing sub 24 mins and had very nearly got into the 22 min range, which at the time in the days before Aero equipment was very much the respectable target. That year I also started enter local and national schoolboy criteriums and regularly achieve top 5 placings which started to get me noticed by the local coaches.
Fast forward a bit and I am racing for the East Midlands Divisional squad. I went to Germany representing Derbyshire and rode 3 events and won them all. I gained enough points to get my 2nd category licence a year before I was old enough to join 2nd cat races and spent pretty much evry waking hour on the bike or thinking about the bike!
At 22 I am spending the season in Ghent in Belgium, racing several times a week and occasionally joining up with other Uk based riders to enter longer road events as a team. One that stands out in the memory was the Grand Prix Wieler Revue in Holland which was memorable for me as we spent the first 2 hours averaging 27mph before I fell off and hit the exhaust pipe of the TV motor bike, I still have the scars!
That was also my last full season, I did make a brief return to racing when I was 24 and placed 2nd on the last stage of the Sussex 3 day, but I had by then found other interests (none of them healthy!) and also needed to earn a living!
I then hardly touched a bike at all for the next 20 years, until a holiday in the Pyrenees gave me the idea that I could ride a couple of the Tour De France climbs and In particular the Col u Tourmalet which had always been one I had enjoyed watching them race up. So, I bought a new bike, all fancy carbon and loads of gears these days, and made it up the hills in the blazing sunshine. It was hard, I was slow, but I really enjoyed it. I had also just started doing some led rides locally for British Cycling as a way to give something back to a sport that had given me so much many years ago.
When the HSBC / BC partnership was announced, this really excited me and I had to be involved. I volunteered to be on the committee to represent my business area so I could promote it internally, and when the Big Pedal opportunity came up I was quick to apply and thankfully I was selected to join the ride, which brings me to now!
I am not as fit as I once was, and probably have not done anywhere near the level of training I should but this is a great thing and I know how to suffer!
Follow our the NORTH TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALNORTH
You can support Matthew by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Matthew Hall | Head of Cards, GLCM | email@example.com
Mark Rippon’s story
DOES ANYONE LOOK GOOD IN LYCRA?
My name is Mark Rippon and I have the honor of being the team captain for Team West.
With only a couple of weeks to go I am feeling great. The training is going well. My bike has been serviced and I am eagerly awaiting the team kit to arrive. I am slightly worried about the amount of photographs that will be taken…..Does anyone look go in Lycra or is it just me !!
British Cycling and the Bank have been very supportive throughout the lead up to the event. The teams have had nutritional advice, training advice and more protein and energy supplies than we know what to do with. Recently some members of teams were lucky enough to visit the Velodrome in Manchester and try their hand at track riding, an experience that I am sure they will never forget !
I have been riding road bikes for years and last year completed a solo ride from Nottingham to Betws-Y-Coed in North Wales for the Christie. A charity who helped my father in law through a difficult time.
I am now counting the days down to the big event. Being part of a team and part of something that will raise thousands for a charity close to my heart will be an amazing experience. My Grandfather, Jack Rippon developed Alzheimer’s towards the end of his life and I saw first-hand the effect it had not only on him but on his family around him.
This is our chance to make a difference and I am proud to be part of what will be an amazing experience.
Follow our the WEST TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALWEST
You can support Mark by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Mark Rippon | Acting Area Director, Leicester Area, RBWM Central | firstname.lastname@example.org
Benjamin Steele’s story
With 3 weeks to go my training has ramped up significantly and I am now covering 60-70km on my longest rides, the biggest obstacle being boredom! I am however told that changing your route frequently gives a new prospective to a long ride and therefore can alleviate that feeling – therefore I’m hoping the route from London to Birmingham should keep me well occupied.
Following a day at the HSBC National Cycling Centre in Manchester I was lucky enough to obtain some excellent insights into bike set up and ride position which I hope with minor adjustments will allow better comfort and performance on those longer rides. I genuinely had no idea that such minor changes could make so much difference to the performance and output of a ride. I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike to see the differences!
While at the National Cycling Centre, we were invited to take part in a ‘taster session’ around the Velodrome using a fixed wheel bike, with no brakes! We spent around an hour on track and I’m pleased to say I didn’t fall off, although there were a few close encounters. It was a great experience and there are loads of pictures available on our Team South Instagram account.
Follow our the SOUTH TEAM story on Instagram @BIGPEDALSOUTH
You can support Ben by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Benjamin Steele | Invoice Finance Business Development Manager, CMB London | email@example.com
Aisha Wilton’s story
On Monday we were lucky enough to spend the day at the Manchester Velodrome which is the home of British Cycling!
I came up from Norwich the previous day, just a casual 5 hour train journey but absolutely worth it to experience the terrifying but amazing Velodrome…
I started the day by meeting up with Louise and Amy who I have had many chats with on confra calls and whatsapp messages but never actually met, this was actually a highlight of the day for me because we all got on really well which has made me feel slightly less daunted by the ride! It was like we’d known each other for ages and spent the whole day giggling! We then met up with Ben, who again fit right in with our little group representing Team South.
We made our way to the Cycling centre (although we did take the scenic route around Asda’s car park first after taking the wrong turning) and started the day with refreshments overlooking the Velodrome itself. This was the moment I nearly ran back out the door after seeing how insanely high and steep it is but I stayed and was brave…
We then went on a tour of the centre, we met some characters in the staff areas and saw some behind the scenes action like the engineering room. We even saw a top secret very pricey bike!
Next we got to spend some time with the experts talking about getting our bikes set up perfectly for the ride which was much appreciated as I already feel more comfortable after moving my seat.
Finally, it was time – the track hour had come and by now I was visibly trembling. What then struck me was that the bikes have no brakes, no gears and you’re just strapped in pedalling for dear life… but seriously, once you started pedalling and getting up the walls it was such an incredible experience. My heart was pounding, and the adrenaline was rushing as I tried (and wimped out) about 10 times to make the turns whilst up the walls. At last, I had a word with myself and said in my head ‘just keep pedalling’ over and over and made it round a bend on the wall. It was honestly one of the most exhilarating, terrifying and crazy things I’ve ever done and I’d recommend it to anyone!
After 3 turns on the wall I felt I had given it a good go and didn’t want to risk any limbs so had a bit more of a relaxed ride but this is what I learnt…
Look ahead at all times, never down….just keep pedalling…. And it really is all in the mind – doesn’t matter about your cycling ability, anyone can do it, you just need to have the guts to get the glory!
You can support Aisha by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here.
Aisha Wilton | RBWM Branch Manager, RBWM Central | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Moller’s story
Training can be hard to fit in around our busy lives but I'm finding it great cycling places that I would usually catch public transport to. For example when I'm visiting friends, going to netball, or even running errands, I will use it as an excuse to jump on my bike and get some training in, every little bit counts!
On Monday, I was lucky enough to get to spend the day at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester with some of my fellow Road to Birmingham cyclists. We had a behind the scenes tour, talks from some of the British Cycling team crew (including the head coach!) and even got to actually ride on the velodrome itself, which is something I never thought I'd do. This was a bit scary at first but as soon as we got used to it there was no stopping us! This session made me really excited for the actual event as it was fantastic to get to meet some of my teammates in person, as until now we'd only spoken over the phone, email and WhatsApp. Looking forward to doing some longer training rides now before the big event!
You can support Amy by donating to the Alzheimer’s Society here
Amy Moller | Financial Wellbeing Consultant, RBWM London | email@example.com