Category: charity, CSR, York St John University, Corporate Social Responsibility, Charity Bike Ride, Student Support
Steve Milner Deputy Chair of Governors at York St John University is gearing up for a Land’s End to John O’Groats charity ride in aid of three worthy causes. He'll undertake the iconic challenge next month, to raise money for York St John University's Student Support Fund as well as Leeds Cares and Poppleton Road Primary School.
The ride is considered the ultimate British cycling challenge: covering a distance of 980 miles and climbing 52 000 ft, almost the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest twice.
We caught up with Steve to find out more about his endeavour and how training is going:
What made you decide to do this?
I'm 63 and not getting any younger so need to take on these challenges whilst I am still fit enough to do them. And what could be bigger than this, one of the most celebrated cycling challenges in the world. I have always enjoyed cycling but was mostly a commuting cycling during my working life ( I retired two and and a half years ago). I was inspired by the Grand Départ when it came to Yorkshire in 2014 and decided then to buy a first proper road bike and I've never looked back. Since then I have taken on various challenges but none as big as this ... until now.
Why did you choose to support the YSJ Student Support Fund?
I am passionate about education and believe very strongly that everybody should have the opportunity of a great education regardless of their circumstances - one of YSJ's great values. In particular, financial hardship should not be a barrier to someone's education. I hope the funds I raise might be able to help a number of students but even if what I raise helps just one student complete their studies rather than leave because they couldn't afford it, then the whole thing will have been worth it.
How are you feeling ahead of the ride?
I'm feeling great and now it is nearly here I'm really looking forward to it. I've done the training and ready to go - bring it on. I have the occasional doubt which is inevitable with such a big challenge, but I'm confident everything will be okay. My most immediate concern is making sure I pack everything and don't leave something important behind.
How have preparations been going?
Very well. My training started in earnest last September and apart from the odd week I have cycled 200+ miles every week since then. It has been a mix of long rides and short rides and included several landmark rides (e.g. coast to coast in a day (Morecambe to Whitby), L'Etape du Tour (riding stage 20 of this year's Tour de France), working through the list of Yorkshire's toughest climbs including Rosedale Chimney Bank).
Any particularly tough training moments?
Plenty!! But that said, I always enjoy going out regardless of the weather, it has never felt like a chore and I can honestly say I have enjoyed every ride. I have always said, I don't mind the rain, I don't mind the wind and I don't mind the cold but I don't like it when they all happen at the same time. And occasionally it has but I have never thought I can't do this. The toughest moments - probably a 65 mile sportive from York to Harewood House and back in April - we went out into a very strong headwind and then it rained and hailed most of the way there - that was hard. The return was nice though, the sun came out and, of course, we had a strong tailwind - every cloud has a silver lining. There have been lots of extremely rewarding moments too, especially competing those landmark rides - things I thought I would never be able to do when I first started riding and something I have to thank my training buddy for. We have effectively been training each other but for different events. Without his support I would not have completed half these challenges (and he likewise). It just goes to show, with the right sort of ambition, support and encouragement, anything is possible - I AM, I CAN, I WILL applies to us all ... even at my time of life.
What do you think will keep you going once you’re on the road?
The ride is an organised event called RAB (Ride Across Britain) so there will be 600 other people doing the ride. So what will keep me going - I'm usually pretty determined when it comes to these things, I will get my head down and get on with it and will be driven by the desire to complete such a great challenge. I hope also to enjoy the moment - these things don't happen very often and so I intend to make the most of it (making new friends, taking in some of the country's best scenery and landmarks, sharing progress with family, friends and supporters etc.). I am also looking forward to doing the event with so many like-minded people, I think the camaraderie and 'RAB bubble' will be something special and will be a big part in encouraging everyone to complete the journey. Last but not least, my sponsors and supporters will be constantly in my mind. I have friends and family cheering me on at various parts of the journey and will look forward to seeing them and feeling their encouragement. I have also been blown away by how generous and supportive people have been. If I can return that support by raising as much money as possible for my chosen charities that will be a fantastic achievement.
If you'd like to support Steve in his challenge, here's his justgiving page.