Blood, sweat and gears!
Paddle2Pedal pair painfully close to hitting sponsorship target
When two of Liniar’s marketing team agreed to take part in this year’s GM Fundraising event, little did they know what they would be letting themselves in for – but after lots of hard work and tenacious fundraising they are almost ready to tackle the tall order ahead.
The Paddle2Pedal Challenge begins on Sunday, August 20 and Helen Noble (Design & Events Co-ordinator) and Nikki Dunbar (Design & Marketing Co-ordinator) have endured blood, sweat and tears – quite literally – in preparation for the mammoth task.
GM Fundraising is renowned in the fenestration industry for epic cycling challenges that raise money for Hope House Children’s Hospices. Paddle2Pedal, exclusively for the ladies, involves canoeing 100 miles over five days, a seven storey abseil and then a 120 mile cycle ride over the last two days.
The finish line is at Hope House itself, which is certain to be an emotional finale for those taking part in the week-long test of endurance.
Taking on the challenge
So how did the Liniar girls get involved in this daunting event? Helen explains: “I was at the FIT Show photography day at the NEC last September when I heard about Paddle2Pedal and that more women were still needed to take part. I had been talking to Nikki about taking on a new challenge so I immediately volunteered to do it.
“I was then told they still needed one other person – so I volunteered Nikki too! To say she was pleased when I told her the next day would be stretching the truth a tad. She was a little apprehensive about the canoeing aspect as she can’t actually swim!”
But they both signed up regardless of this small detail and set about raising their target of £2,500 each in sponsorship in order to participate.
This is the story of their preparation for Paddle2Pedal…
October 2016 – Paddle2Pedal Launch
Nikki: “It was great to meet all the other girls and find out more about the challenge and what we’d gotten ourselves into. It also involved an incredibly inspiring presentation from Simi, the fundraising manager at Hope House, who told us about all of the amazing work that they do there.”
Helen: “Learning about Hope House assured me that we’d made the right decision to sign up for Paddle2Pedal.
“We also got measured for our buoyancy aids and helmets for canoeing – I should have guessed then that it was going to be a lot more dangerous than I first thought!”
1st Training Weekend – April 2017 – Loughborough
Distance: Canoe 2 miles; Cycle 28 miles
Nikki: “This was our first experience at canoeing so we spent the first four hours going round in circles. At times we thought that we would never be able to get the hang of it and that this challenge would prove to be impossible!
“The Sunday gave us an introduction to riding as a group and, as a keen cyclist, I should have really enjoyed it. But instead I found myself struggling due to what I thought was a chest infection. I discovered three days later that I’d actually got pneumonia!”
Helen: “It felt like we’d canoed for about 20 miles and it was a shock to the system to find out that it had only been two! That wasn’t my biggest shock of the weekend, however.
“Climbing out of the canoe at the end of the session, with my hands on the bank and ready to plant my right knee down, Nikki decided to pull the painter rope to stop the canoe floating off. This meant that it shot out from under my feet and I face planted the canal, much to Nikki’s amusement!
“As it was a really steep bank I struggled to climb out, but the team gathered round to give me plenty of helping hands, in between appeals for a phone so they could capture the moment on camera!
“As for the cycling, the turbo trainer in my garage hadn’t really prepared me for road cycling. At one point we pulled up down a country lane to let a race pack pass, but I forgot my foot was clipped onto the pedal and I fell into the road.
“I lifted my head up from the tarmac just in time for the lead motorbike to miss me! I put on a brave face and pretended that I was okay, but in reality I was shaking for the next ten miles.
“On the whole though, it was a good experience that enabled us to work as a team and get to understand everyone’s individual abilities.”
2nd Training Weekend – May 2017 – Stratford and Warwick
Distance: Canoe 10 miles; Cycle 34 miles
Nikki: “Saturday’s canoeing proved to be a massive challenge. It introduced us to the difficulties of paddling into a head wind and against a current. This lead to tensions in the canoe and the occasional domestic!
“After the trauma of the Saturday, having to be up and at breakfast for 6.30am to prepare for the cycling the next day was a breeze!”
Helen: “This time we managed to stay inside the boat for the whole day. We experienced weirs and locks for the first time which was really daunting; feeling a lock filling up with water around us while desperately trying to stay in the canoe was pretty scary! It was a great relief when the boat finally levelled out.
“My dodgy steering from the rear meant that Nikki was taking the brunt of all the collisions, much to her annoyance, and it was a long slog on a cold, miserable day.
“We managed to get lost while cycling on the Sunday and had to go up and over a roundabout on the M42 – a truly terrifying experience!
“Later on in the day we heard a shout to stop as we’d gone the wrong way. The riders directly in front of me stopped too quickly and I fell into the road trying to avoid them, narrowly avoiding getting hit by a car. Nikki attempted to save me and almost got hit herself!”
3rd Training Weekend – June 2017 – Telford and Bridgnorth
Distance: Cycle 40 miles
Nikki: “Unfortunately I couldn’t take part on the Saturday as I had prior commitments. This meant that I had to leave home at 4.45am in order to arrive in time to join the team for Sunday’s cycling session. No amount of Haribo or Lucozade was going to make that ride less of a struggle!”
Helen: “I was away on holiday so couldn’t take part – my thoughts were with the team as I enjoyed a cocktail by the pool!”
Extra Training – June 2017 – Great Notts Bike Ride
Distance: Nikki 77 miles; Helen 52 miles
Nikki: “We decided to take on this extra challenge to provide us with some additional miles on the bikes. I thoroughly enjoyed this, particularly as I’d eaten a huge chunk of Rocky Road beforehand and I was buzzing!”
Helen: “I agreed to do this long before I realised how difficult the whole thing was going to be. I was aiming to do the full distance with Nikki, but after 40 miles I realised that I didn’t have it in me, especially with another 54 miles ahead of me the following weekend. I managed 52 miles in the end and was glad to get the distance under my belt – the furthest I’d ever cycled up that point!”
4th Training Weekend – July 2017 – Telford
Distance: Canoe 14 miles; Cycle 54 miles
Nikki: “This was a priceless weekend in regards to the canoe – it was the first time we felt that we were getting to grips with it and that we could actually paddle in a straight line (mostly!) for the distance required.”
Helen: “The whole team bonded especially well this weekend, and even Nikki and I didn’t fall out! Everything was going well and it put us in a really good mind set to tackle the rest of the weekend.
“After the previous weekend’s exploits I found the cycling particularly difficult this time round, particularly when I fell off and stabbed my leg with the bike sprocket. One of the support team had to spit on a tissue and scrub the blood and oil out of my wound!
“I found that this was the worse ride for me overall, mostly because I’ve got a real mental block concerning steep hills. Many tears were shed before I reached the end – then I collapsed in a heap on the floor!”
Extra Training – July 2017 – Doggy Paddle
Distance: Canoe 18 miles
Nikki: “This was suggested by the event organisers as the ideal opportunity to get some extra paddling miles under our belts – and every single one of them was gruelling!
“There wasn’t any current and it felt like paddling through sludge, having to dodge trees and even a really smelly dead fish.
“I was swiftly sacked from my attempts to steer – it was like Grand Theft Auto in a canoe – and navigating a steep weir led to me being catapulted head first into the canal and having to be rescued as the undercurrent was pulling me under.”
Helen: “It was a scorching hot day for this! Because the paddling was so tough my fingers had blistered halfway through and had to be duct taped together, meaning I couldn’t use my hand properly!
“Having to swap places with Nikki in the middle of the river without falling in was quite an achievement though.
“This, along with some very interesting sun burn marks, made it a very long day!”
5th Training Weekend – August 2017 – Telford
Distance: Canoe 21 miles; Cycle 12 miles and 51 miles
Nikki: “This session started with a Friday visit to Hope House, which was very warm and welcoming – particularly the kind lady who made me a cup of tea as I’d arrived more than an hour early! We all watched an incredibly moving video about a boy called Frankie who was a regular visitor to the hospice. To say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house would be a massive understatement.
“This brought it home to us how important our fundraising efforts are to keeping such an amazing place going. I was shocked to find out that of the £7 million needed annually to run the hospice, only £1 million is provided by the government. The rest comes from fundraising.
“After the visit we embarked on a 12 mile bike ride, taking in some of the biggest hills in Shropshire – a total elevation of 1,200ft!
“Saturday’s canoeing was our longest distance yet and a true reflection of what lay ahead daily once we start for real.”
Helen: “It was an incredibly humbling experience visiting Hope House. I was amazed to find out that the £5,000 sponsorship that Nikki and I had been raising, while a huge amount for us, isn’t even enough to buy one of the special beds that they need there. It left me feeling like I wanted to do so much more and will keep me going through the tough challenge ahead.
“One of the support riders managed to get us lost during Friday’s bike ride and we ended up cycling down a really busy dual carriageway during rush hour, much to the disgust of the passing drivers!
“The canoeing went really smoothly and we managed to stay away from the trees and out of the water this time.
“I was dreading Sunday’s bike ride after my awful experience previously, but somehow ended up leading for the first 15 miles, which was a great boost to my confidence and paved the way for a really good ride.”
Ready to ‘paddle up’
Nikki: “I’m battered, bruised, blistered, tired – and that’s just from canoeing! But overall this has been a fantastic adventure for an amazing cause. I’m immensely proud to have been part of it and I’m actually looking forward to spending my birthday paddling a canoe. Roll on August 20th!”
Helen: “I’ve never had so many injuries, bruises, aches and pains in my life – but I wouldn’t change any of it. Working with the rest of the team has been a fantastic experience and getting to know the other ladies from within the industry has been one of the best things about the challenge.
“We are so very, very grateful and appreciative of everyone who’s sponsored us so far. Family, friends and colleagues, as well as customers and other industry associates, have been so generous that we are ALMOST at our target.
“We only need around £300 to hit the £5,000 mark and we truly are desperate to reach this. Every single penny is going to Hope House to help them continue with the inspirational work that they do.
“If you would like to help us get over the finish line then you can sponsor us here. Thanks again to everyone who already has.”
All about Hope House
Hope House Children’s Hospices provide care and support to life-limited children, young people and their families.
They offer a range of services including respite and end-of-life care and support, such as counselling, advocacy and the promotion of children, young people’s and carers’ rights.
The support offered includes physical, psychological and spiritual care from a team including experienced doctors, nurses and other care professionals.