AN AMSTERDAM ADVENTURE
Reigate resident Sue Ashfield is already planning how to celebrate at the end of her charity bicycle ride to Amsterdam this summer.
“I won’t so much be tiptoeing through the tulips as dancing among them if I successfully manage to cycle 300 miles over three consecutive days!” claims Sue, who is a mother of three grown-up children.
Setting off on 28th June, Sue will be taking part in the Reigate and Redhill YMCA Challenge event in a group of 38 cyclists. They will depart from Redhill and head for Dover, before cycling along the north coast of France, Belgium and Holland prior to reaching the vibrant city of Amsterdam.
“I have a nasty feeling that Holland might not feel quite as flat as everyone believes it to be,” laughs Sue, who will be 56 years old by the time of the event. “I’m definitely out of my comfort zone with this challenge but I am determined to finish as so many wonderful people have sponsored me in advance.”
All money raised from the Amsterdam 500 event will fund YMCA services to help vulnerable young people with disabilities, mental or physical health conditions or those at risk of homelessness in the local community.
Sue was initially persuaded to join a previous YMCA cycling trip to Paris in 2010 by a friend. Having been only an occasional cyclist before this, she completed that event on her old ‘sit up and beg’ bike and was overwhelmed at the experience. Since then, she has also completed a ride from Redhill to La Rochelle in France.
“I have met really interesting people from all walks of life,” she says, “and find the camaraderie and friendly competition between the various groups on the trips very inspiring. Now I am so much fitter and I absolutely love going out on my training rides. I get to see the beautiful countryside all over Surrey as it changes throughout the seasons.”
A nurse and specialist health visitor working for First Community Health and Care, Sue has now invested in a new lightweight bike for the challenge but believes that there should be no excuses for grabbing at an opportunity that could change your life.
"The planning and support on YMCA trips like this are superb,” says Sue. “A full training schedule is available to everyone and advice is at hand every step of the way. You can come and have a go on a training ride with no obligation and see if it’s for you. The wonderful thing about the YMCA is that they value everyone’s contribution and you will never be made to feel that you cannot achieve your goal. Cycling definitely keeps you young. I would encourage anyone to invest in their health and in their local community and just do it!”