The adventure organised by the Ride 4 Kids charity took six days, traversing the majestic east coast of Thailand before cutting across Khao Sok National Park and heading south to the finish line at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort.
Riders spent seven hours a day in the saddle on average, enduring searing 40-degree-plus heat. They passed elephants and monkeys on the roadside, riding on tarmac roads that had a nasty habit of turning into dirt tracks on the many occasions that their GPS led them astray.
Senses of humour were stretched at times, such as when they found themselves 30km off course, having already cycled 140km that day. The level of ability, experience and condition of the riders were very varied, making the inspiring individual efforts of less-seasoned or injured team members all the more impressive.
For instance, one older rider completed the six days having fallen off his bike on a training ride only three days before. Yet stubborn determination (aided by copious amounts of pain-killers) somehow carried Michael the entire 845km – all with one cracked rib, two torn cartilages and a hairline crack in his elbow. He broke down in tears at the finish line, having tested his mental tenacity to the limits.
One thing that remained constant was the unshakable bond and team spirit that strengthened with each hour that passed on the bikes. In many cases, riders started as complete strangers, but by the time they rolled into Phuket, lifelong friendships had been formed.
The intrepid cyclists were riding with the goal of raising essential funds for three local charities – all dedicated to helping local children: Phuket Has Been Good to Us, The Good Shepherd and Outrigger’s Share for Change.
The pre-ride fundraising target was one million baht and at the time of writing this total had been exceeded and money was still rolling in. Needless to say, whatever the final figure, the organisers have been totally blown away by the generosity and support of the Phuket community who really took the project to heart. We can’t wait to see the good the community’s combined efforts will do for local children less fortunate than our own.
A position for a rider in next year’s edition was auctioned off during the welcome home party to the unsuspecting Paul Chappel – well done Paul. It looks like the wheels will be turning again in 2018 for what promises to be an even bigger and better adventure.
The Ride 4 Kids charity ride was proudly sponsored by the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort, Live 89.5, The Phuket News, Jiakina, Ski Boutique, Kata Rocks and Katiliya Khao Lak Resort & Pool Villas and countless more donations from generous individuals and businesses in Phuket.