8 June 2021

There was a jubilant feel in the air when 27 local cyclists successfully completed the first YMCA East Surrey group challenge to take place in person this year.

The event covered 200 miles from the YMCA Sports and Community Centre in Redhill around the Isle of Wight and back between 4 and 6 June, with one group tackling the distance in two days and another in three.

Chris McManus developed a keen interest in cycling during the first lockdown last year. She signed up to take on a 3-day YMCA cycle to Bruges but was undeterred when the challenge was forced to change destination due to government restrictions and found the event an inspiring experience.

“I felt elated at the end of each day, and when I completed the challenge, of course. I never dreamt I would enjoy it all as much as I did, despite the hills. The best tip I was given was not to think of the whole day’s distance but to focus on the cycle to the next coffee/lunch/tea stop – it helped!”

“I really love cycling now and will definitely be signing up for more YMCA challenges. They do such good work with young people in our area that raising sponsorship funds was not as hard as I thought it might be. I would really recommend taking on an event with them to anyone. The welcome and ongoing support from the challenge team are fantastic and they make you believe in yourself. I say, feel the fear and do it anyway!”

To date, more than £7,000 has been raised in sponsorship from the event and money is still coming in. All funds raised from YMCA East Surrey’s 2021 challenge events will go towards their new Life Change Fund, supporting young people – particularly those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged – in overcoming the challenges they have faced through the recent pandemic and beyond.

“This was our first outdoor organised cycling event since August 2019,” says YMCA Chief Executive, Ian Burks.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful bunch of generous and supportive fundraisers, who have taken on this challenge to raise money which will help local young people to get their lives back on track following the huge disruption of COVID-19.”

Challenge participant Emma Ryall has first-hand experience of the YMCA’s vital respite support, as her son Tom attended the charity’s Yippee playscheme for children with disabilities and complex needs when he was younger. Emma raised a huge £1,300 from her cycle ride, through the generosity of family and friends.

Co-sponsors of the Island Cycle Challenge were Clockwise Marketing in Redhill and Reigate-based Connick Tree Care. Simon Ellis, Managing Director of Clockwise Marketing was among the cycling group.

YMCA East Surrey is keen to encourage anyone looking to test their fitness, resolution or endurance to sign up for one of the remaining events this summer.

“It’s so exciting to get our Challenge events programme underway once more,” says Ian Burks.

“Our YMCA Welsh 7 Summits Challenge in July will be an exciting and gruelling hike but the Y2Y North Downs Trek at the end of next month suits all levels of fitness. With a route of either 13 or 26 miles, it can be completed at a walking pace or a run. And the YMCA Brighton 50 cycle ride on 21 August has a free training programme available to ensure everyone is ready to tackle the quiet roads and off-road bridleway route to Brighton seafront for celebratory fish and chips!”

“Pick one, sign up and join us for a great adventure which will leave you with lasting memories and help us to transform young lives in East Surrey.”

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