Day 154 has seen 44 miles cycled with a total ascent of 4518 feet to walk 4.3 miles with a total ascent of 526 feet with sunshine and showers and the joy of people. Wonderful and courageous people all carrying messages of encouragement.

A pair of intriguingly colouired pigs
A pair of intriguingly colouired pigs

I wanted to test my metal on the bike a little more and with a very positive forecast I decided to go up and over the Braes into Callander, along Loch Venachar and then up, up and away over the Menteith Hills before the exhilarating downhill into Aberfoyle to complete 22 miles on the bike. And then to give my backside a break a short 4.3 mile walk around the Doon Hill and the Fairy Knowe made famous by the intriguing story of the disappearance of the Reverend Robert Kirk in the area shortly after he had written his famous book ‘The Secret Commonwealth of Elves and Fairies.’ In 1691.

So I set off in bright sunshine for an uneventful bike ride as I cycled through the kaleidoscope of wonderful smells made stronger by the warming sunshine. Broom then Gorse, then sheep, then cattle, then bluebells, then grass, then trees and so it went on, smell after smell after glorious smell until I came across a ram trapped by his enormous curly horns in a 5 bar gate. He was clearly distressed as I came up so rather than take a photo of this amusing scene, which I sorely wanted to do, went straight to unwinding his huge horns from the gate. I had my cycling gloves on and was glad for it as he fought against my attempts to unhook him but succeeded in untangling him before trying to take a photo while he stood there rather stunned to be free but before I could get the camera up and running he turned and wandered off feeling rather silly for having got stuck in the first place. But I was pleased to have done my good dead for the day so carried on up the hill before whooshing down into Callander. Then on and on and on on what seemed to be the world’s longest uphill cycle. Once I hit the Menteith Hills, even though it wasn’t a huge distance it was very steep and in the heat of the sun I was finding it harder and harder and harder to keep going but keep going I did until eventually the reward for all that hard work. The downhill into Aberfoyle. It was long, fast and exhilarating while I also gave thanks for disc brakes as the metal gate, designed to stop cyclists whooshing on to the road, suddenly loomed into view as I rounded a bend. I was hot, sweaty and in need of some lunch and a celebratory Mocha. So I pulled in to the MacGregors Coffee Shop and settled in for lunch. But I also settled in for a remarkable show of encouragement. The wonderful waitress, Nicole from Australia, was a pure ray of sunshine as she brought out the Mocha and let me quietly nibble on my Tuna Mayonnaise Sandwiches and veggie pick and mix bag and as I ate a couple came and sat on the table next to me and seemed determined to engage me in conversation as we sat, bathed in sunshine. I was never one to turn down such an opportunity so introduced the challenge to the delightful; Marie and Mark from Cumbernauld and almost immediately after I had finished with my usual invitation to pour a glass of wine and watch a video I received a lovely message of encouragement from Marie who later confirmed that we shared a faith. ‘I sense that you are going to be on this journey for a long time. You’re going to beat the beast.’ Sadly they then had to move on but it was a lovely message to receive from someone I had only just met and had little time to really understand what I was doing but seemed to get it immediately. Brilliant.

And then. No sooner had they gone 3 children came and sat at the same table who were then joined by the Mother and Grandmother. I had just carried the WWF goodie bag over the Menteith Hills so asked if I could dive into the bag and see what I could find. Permission granted I found an orangutan, a dolphin and an egg with a surprise inside. This gave me opportunity to introduce the challenge to Moira and Ainsley while Oliver, Otis and Beth played with their new toys. I then received the next message of encouragement. Moira was fighting a tumour of the head that manifested itself as a cancer of the eye. She had lost an eye to the disease but while it will be a very long time before she can be certain of beating the disease Moira was absolutely convinced that a positive mental attitude would help and can even make the impossible possible. Moira encouraged me to keep fighting. To keep doing what I was doing and after more handshakes it was time for them to go. It was time for me to go too.

Moira and her wonderful family
Moira and her wonderful family

I popped back into the café and introduced Nicole to the challenge before heading off for the walk. I was navigating the route off of the map from memory and was really pleased to have been able to successfully navigate the route over 4.3 miles without error having simply studied the route over lunch. With the walk completed it was time to steel myself for the 22 miles back over the hills with another Mocha but as the skies darkened it was time to go. The air was close. It was very warm but dry so I just jumped on and went for it. The start of the route from Aberfoyle is particularly steep but I managed it without stopping once but then also started to feel the heat. Nicole had filled my water bladder up as I had consumed the entire 2 litres on the way over so I had plenty of water for the way back and I needed it. My head was heavy with the heat under my cycling helmet and started throbbing almost as if it was fit to burst. It was just hot, hot, hot as I sweated and panted up the steep sloped onto the hills. I was starting to feel most unwell and even contemplated turning around and seeing if I could find a taxi that would take me with the bike but that would have cost a bomb so decided to press on and just asked God for the strength to carry me home. My head was throbbing, my legs were burning and my bum was getting very tender again. I was most uncomfortable but then, almost in answer to my prayer, it started to rain. Slowly at first but got steadily heavier and heavier and so doing a brilliant job of cooling me down. I was starting to feel better but now a little chilly as I crested the hill and started to hit some of the downhill sections but felt much recovered from the excessive heat on the way up. I hit Callander, sadly just after the Deli had closed and considered stopping for a fish supper as it was now gone 6 pm so I had missed my deadline to cook something for Margaret and with at least another hour to push up over the Braes back into Doune I knew that I would need a quick solution for something to eat. But I pushed on. I didn’t want to break my rhythm and was feeling cold. And then, again, almost as if God knew exactly what I needed right now the sun came out again and I cycled on up the hill towards the Braes of Doune with the road and me steaming in the warming evening sunshine. Certainly I was drying quickly but my bum and legs were burning. I was tired but pushed on and made it all the way back without incident. Just a John Wayne walk when I arrived in Doune at 7.30pm. Did the Red Lion still do it’s takeaway food? No. So I tried the Woodside Hotel. Result. Scampi and Chips with a salad in a takeaway box. Awesome. But would it still be hot when I got home. Oh yes it was. Not the healthiest tea I have had in a long time but was most certainly very welcome.

Marie and Mark
Marie and Mark

So a great day that most certainly challenged me but gave me much encouragement and 4 litres of water consumed on the way.

So the challenge in numbers in total since the start
Days completed: 154
Total Miles Cycled: 800.44
Total Miles Walked: 821.38
Total Miles Run: 122.63
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 42.17
Total Distance Swum: 3,780 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,797.32
Total Height Gained under own steam: 69,225 feet
Mountains Climbed: 7
Hills Climbed: 26
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 12
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 318metres or 6360kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 8
Press Ups: 599
Pull Ups: 14
Sit Ups: 864
People Met and Hands Shaken: 488
Pots of tea shared: 31
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 888
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 720
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 40 – £7,864

Considering I started this challenge 9 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £51.39 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £54.02 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye