Peter, 68, faced a considerable challenge when he signed up to cycle 175 miles to Paris in 3 days using a handcycle.

Always a keen cyclist, Peter had suffered health problems which led to him being referred for rehabilitative gym work. In 2007, he became a member of YMCA East Surrey’s Exercise Referral programme and it was there that he discovered the handcycling machine for the first time.

Peter has a weakness in his left leg due to a spinal cord injury and what movement he has in that leg can be painful. He has a wheelchair which he uses when extensive walking is required.

In 2009, Peter bought his first handcycle, rode it half a mile up the road and was ‘shattered’.

“I thought I might have made a horrible mistake!” he laughs.

Eighteen months later, he bought his second model in a more recumbent style and found this far more comfortable. Peter refuses to let his physical limitations hold him back and decided to make 2017 the year that he pushed himself further.

“I thought it was time to physically challenge myself and I wanted to fundraise for the new Inclusive Sports Facility as I know that I’ll be using it myself,” Peter explains. “I am fortunate that the Exercise Referral programme can supply the equipment and instruction that is so important for my physical health.”

Despite extensive training, Peter was uncertain that he would be able to complete the ride to Paris. Cycling for three days, back to back, with the longest ride on the last day, was going to challenge his physical and mental strength.

“In the event, I absolutely loved cycling through France,” says Peter. “It was so peaceful and the other road users were incredibly courteous.”

I have never seen the Eiffel Tower before and so the stand-out moment for me was turning onto the Trocadero and seeing it standing before us. The view made battling the hard climbs and headwinds worthwhile.

Our Challenge team continue to ensure that events remain popular, inspiring and affordable. The vital funds raised from the Challenge programme enable us to transform lives in East Surrey, while helping people to get fit and have fun.

“I feel very proud to have achieved my goal,” says Peter. “I tend to stay within my comfort zone and this has encouraged me to push my boundaries more. I am so grateful to the YMCA for giving me the opportunity.”

Read more about Challenge Events