The YMCA Redhill to Paris 3-day cycling event in 2023 was the third YMCA challenge that Liz has undertaken.

“I did the Coast to Coast cycle ride from Whitehaven to Newcastle a long time ago in 2008 and, more recently, I tackled the YMCA South Downs Marathon Trek from Lewes to Eastbourne,” recounts Liz.

“This time around, I was looking to take on another fitness-oriented challenge. I had some knowledge of YMCA East Surrey prior to signing up for the Paris event, but as I became affiliated with the charity through the training sessions and then the challenge itself I heard more and more about their services. I was very happy to know that I would be fundraising for such a good cause and it was truly amazing to witness the dedication that staff apply to each event and to their work. It turned the Paris Challenge into a very positive endeavour.”

Training for the event began in January 2023 and Liz thoroughly committed to the frequent sessions in order to improve her fitness.

“The trees were bare and it was cold. With hindsight, the training was often more gruelling than the actual event. It took mental dedication and commitment to put in the hours, but the help, support and words of encouragement I received from everyone involved was amazing.

By the time the event came around, I felt fitter and more confident. I enjoyed every single moment of the trip, spent all three days fuelled by endorphins and I never stopped smiling! We were spoiled with fabulous weather throughout and it’s hard to choose a standout moment from the whole journey because the entire experience was fantastic. The people, the pit stops, the wonderful technical support team and their amazing lunches – it was all incredible.

The overall logistical organisation was superb. To have the 1-day, 2-day and 3-day cycling teams all meet up at our final destination, the Arc de Triomphe, was quite a feat. We had a beer (should have been champagne really!), exchanged stories and relaxed. The camaraderie was lovely.

I felt very safe throughout the event. I was part of a well-organised team and the physical and mental support I received was invaluable. The staff and volunteers give up their spare time to ensure the success of both the training and the final challenge event and they do it with friendly smiles on their faces from start to finish. It’s so impressive.”

To date, Liz has raised over £700 in sponsorship from the YMCA Paris 3-day Cycling Challenge. Her employers, Legal & General, have matched the donations she received.

Liz says:

“I am delighted to have raised this money and to consider myself a representative of YMCA East Surrey. The challenge may have started off about me and my plans, but I now have a more expansive view of the vital projects which every YMCA fundraiser helps to support and I am really proud to have been involved.

I’m still cycling and will definitely be keeping an eye on future challenges. I’d encourage anyone who is thinking of signing up for an event to go for it. With the right training and the support of these wonderful people, it’s amazing what you can achieve.”