Around Christmas time 2006 I read in our local paper that Jersey Hospice were organising the third of their cycle/walking challenges, to be held in Vietnam in November 2007.
Previous challenges had been held in Peru & Mexico & had been enormously successful in raising funds for this very worthy local charity. Hospice Care is totally self funded, hugely respected in Jersey & provides an invaluable service to the local community.
I would be 60 years old at the time of the challenge, had not ridden a bike seriously since I was a kid & whilst not quite in a bath chair, was hardly fit. On the other hand, I was mindful that time was marching on, I had wonderful memories of my early cycling years & the prospect of visiting Vietnam was highly appealing, so I signed up.
The next 11 months was a combination of fun & fear as the reality set in & I became more & more aware of what was ahead. I spent hours in the gym, days on the bike, gave up booze & gave Judith the job of feeding me up & getting me to bed early. Details of the actual trip you will see on my Diary & I am thrilled to say we raised a total of £425,000 of which I contributed £17,450 due to the unbelievable generosity of you, my friends, family & colleagues, around the world. Bless you all!
However, the story goes on as I am now back in love with two wheels & cycling at every opportunity. A small group of us now regularly cycle in Jersey & when the inevitable question was asked ‘where shall we go?’, the automatic response became ‘all roads lead to Big Vern’s’ (a cafe on St Ouens beach on the Western side of the Island. Thus the Big Vern’s Cycle Club was born.
The ‘club’ has continued ever since & continues to grow (11 out riding yesterday) & in addition I try to do most of my commuting by bike (that’s when a suit & tie is not an essential). I also cycle in Majorca which is a joy & early mornings in the mountains can amount to cycle heaven.