The tour de force

SAIF President Paul Allcock is excited about the forthcoming Annual General Meeting in Harrogate in March, but he asks you to forgive him if he doesn’t have his usual spring in his step – he will be recovering from cycling 166 miles to raise money for charity.

The idea of the cycle challenge all started with a conversation in a pub back in October between Paul, SAIF Scotland President Mark Porteous and incoming Vice President Gary Staker. Paul was talking about raising funds for MIND, the charity which campaigns for mental health support.

As Gary and Mark are keen cyclists, the idea of a charity bike ride was discussed – and then, emboldened by a few pints, the idea developed into a three-day epic cycle ride from the Scottish border to Harrogate in time for the SAIF AGM and Banquet Weekend, which starts on Friday 24 March.

Since then, the intrepid three have roped in David Fry and Lisa Platts, from funeral supplies company Clarke & Strong, to join them in their 166-mile cycle challenge.

Gary, who is based in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle, has already started training for the event by cycling the 20-mile journey into work every day. In the evening, he puts his bike on a ‘turbotrainer’ to get another two hours of cycling in, and he’s also cycling 20 miles at the weekend.

“It’s going to be a challenge as we are not in the prime of our lives and these thin saddles take some getting used to,” joked Gary. “I think we are going to be very sore by the end of the trip!”

The team plan to meet up at Berwick-upon-Tweed, then set off down the Northumberland coast, using the National Cycle Network route and B-roads, down to Newcastle and Sunderland, past Middlesbrough on to Northallerton and Rippon, and finally Harrogate. Accompanying the team on the trip down south in the support van is Arran Brudenell, Past President and Managing Director of Anstey & District Funeral Services based in Leicester.

Arran has provided logistical support on other SAIF-inspired charity fundraising adventures, such as the West Highland Way, from Glasgow to Fort William, and the Three Peaks Challenge, which involves the ascent of the UK’s highest mountains – Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell in the Lake District, and Mount Snowdon in Wales – within 24-hours.

Gary added: “We plan to get as much cycling done as possible in the first two days so we have time to get into Harrogate in the afternoon on Thursday, and then we can enjoy the socialising with members in the evening. However, we might be a bit saddle sore by then!”

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