Practice nurse and chair of the Scottish Practice Nurse Association Rhona Aikman is tackling a week-long bike ride to raise money for Diabetes UK. Ready to jet off next week, Rhona explains her motivation to take up the challenge
There are only a few days to go until I set off on my Vietnam Cycle Challenge, husband in tow. I am feeling excited and terrified. It seemed such a good idea at the start of the year when I somehow managed to talk my husband into signing up for a sponsored bike ride for Diabetes UK. ‘We can do it’, we said, and 470km over a week did not sound too bad then. ‘We have months to train for it’, I told myself. But when Easter came we realised it was getting closer, so out came the bikes and the training started.
The first time out we managed 12 miles in pretty miserable weather but felt quite good. Several weeks passed with the odd day out, then in June we realised we only had five months to go and really needed to increase the frequency and distances of our rides. Over the summer we managed to get out for a long cycle most weeks and did some shorter ones in between. I started to cycle to work a few days a week (only six miles return but every bit counts!) We discovered cycle tracks and canal paths we did not know about almost on our doorstep.
The climax of our training was a cycle on the Forth and Clyde canal path to the Falkirk Wheel and back to Glasgow - 53 miles in a day! We were exhausted, dirty, muddy, sitting in Glasgow Central station waiting for a train home on a Saturday night surrounded by people getting ready for a night out. But it was worth it because we knew now we could make it the distance on day three - the longest day of the cycle.
But the next morning I could barely move to get ready for work. I realised that in Vietnam I would be getting back on the bike the next morning for another days cycling. Now I was worried. Never one to quit easily I plodded on with the training. One bonus has been the 5kg weight I have lost.
While doing the training we have also been busy raising money through holding a quiz night, a home baking stall at the local garden party, car boot sales, bag packing and a raft race on the river Tay. We could not have done all this without a huge amount of help and support from family, friends and workmates who have been fantastic.
So why would a couple in their 50s who usually enjoy resting at the pool somewhere exotic sign up for a challenge like this?
Two years ago this Christmas Eve our 20-month old niece was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Over the next year or so there were six children under 16 diagnosed with diabetes in the practice I work in. The impact this has on the children and their families is hard to imagine. I had done a bit of volunteering with Diabetes UK before Rosie was diagnosed and knew a bit about the work they did both in funding research and supporting families and individuals. So this was the reason that we are now about to head off on what I hope will be a memorable trip across a beautiful country. I will update next week but if you want to follow us in between please visit our website.