Newport man challenged to alphabet bike ride
3:02pm Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
A NEWPORT man has been challenged to cycle to towns across the UK beginning with a different letter of the alphabet to raise money for charity.
Hywel Jenkins, 43, who was brought up in Caerleon but now lives in Cheltenham, is taking part after initially challenging his friend, Naomi Turner, to do 16 press-ups.
In return, Mr Jenkins was challenged to cycle to 26 towns under strict rules as part of the PledgeIt website. PledgeIt allows someone to choose a challenge for another person, usually a friend, partner or relative. If the challenger doesn't complete it to the standards set, the money pledged isn't taken, and the challenge is failed.
Mr Jenkins has been taking part in the epic bike ride since March this year, and is raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research after his girlfriend was diagnosed with the latter two years ago. Mary-Jane Sweeting, 37, underwent months of chemotherapy in the summer of 2011. She has since been given the all-clear.
But his father, Geoffrey, died from Myeloma, another form of blood cancer, aged 69 just weeks after his son had started the challenge.
Mr Jenkins, a web designer, said: “Some of them [bike rides] have been mentally challenging, especially those in the weeks after my dad died.
“When you’re coasting you can let your mind wonder and it can be a lonely sport sometimes.”
Mr Jenkins lived in Caerleon until he was 26 and attended Lodge Hill and Caerleon Comprehensive schools. His mother, Veronica, still lives there and is actively involved with St Cadoc’s Church.
He has so far completed a bike ride to 19 towns, which all have to be at least 20 miles one way from where he had started. His average journey distance so far is around 65 miles.
“I've been fortunate enough to have been joined by friends on some of the rides, but on solo rides it's been particularly challenging, especially when the weather's been grim,” he said.
“I've also been joined by people I've never met, people who heard about the challenge via social media.”
He added: “When I started I wasn’t particularly fit so it’s turned out to be in random order.
“There are rules to ensure that the challenge isn't easy, and the challenge is time-limited, which means that I need to give up at least one day at the weekend to get it in.
“I appreciate that there's a lot of pressure on people to support charities these days, but I've found people to be generous even when times are difficult.
“The ultimate goal of the challenge is, of course, to raise a bucket-load of money, but it's also important to raise awareness of the charity and how people are affected, sometimes catastrophically, by blood cancers.”
The only letters to have cause Mr Jenkins problems while planning his destinations are “j”, “x” and “z”.
A bike ride to his hometown of Caerleon was used in place of the letter “x”, while the destination for the letter “j” is still undecided. A final ride to New Tredegar, where his father was brought up, will see the end of Mr Jenkins’ epic challenge in October.
The remaining rides also include Talgarth, Ilfracombe (from Torquay via Dartmoor), and the Etape Cymru bike ride in Wrexham.
“I just want to make people aware that if you see someone shaking a bucket asking for money at a supermarket, give something, because you might get it back one day,” he said.
“I’m not clever enough to find out how to cure cancer, but I know I can ride a bike.”
So far, Hywel Jenkins has climbed nearly 20,000 metres, burnt over 40,000 calories, ridden over 2,000km, and has cycled for over 84 hours in 19 rides. He has visited:
Abergavenny; Bromyard; Cirencester; Droitwich Spa; Evesham; Fairford; Great Malvern; Hay-on-Wye; Knighton; Ledbury; Monmouth; Newent; Old Radnor; Pershore; Ross-on-Wye; Stratford-upon-Avon; Upton-upon-Severn; Winchcombe; and Caerleon as representing the letter “x”.
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