Over lockdown Laura and Mark decided they wanted to do something for their godsons, Isaac and Jacob, who were both born with a cleft. The couple put their leisurely bike rides to the test with a huge 362km cycle challenge, raising an incredible £3,045 for CLAPA in the process! We caught up with them to say a huge thank you and to find out more.
Why did you decide to support CLAPA?
‘We chose to support CLAPA because my best friend of 30 years (who also has Cerebral Palsy) has two boys who were diagnosed with clefts. Isaac, who turned 2 in April, was diagnosed with a cleft lip, and Jacob, who is 1 next month, was diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate.
My best friend, Naomi, and her husband, Nathan, surprised me and my partner earlier this year by asking us to be Godparents to both Isaac and Jacob. Naomi and Nathan had received help and advice from CLAPA during and after pregnancy, which helped them to know what to expect. They also go to CLAPA events.’
Why did you choose a cycling challenge? How did you train to prepare for such a huge distance?
‘During lockdown we were going on bike rides and we came up with the idea that we wanted to do something for the boys, and what better than for CLAPA!
There were a few days where we would go along the Trans Pennine Trail so we decided to look at where the route starts and finishes. It seemed the perfect ride.
We would train by going on shorter rides to start with, around 30km/40km, then we upped it to around 60km. On one of the days we decided we would go to Mark’s Gran’s house, which was an 80km round trip. Then we thought another day we would carry on from his Gran’s to Southport and go down the Trans Peninne Trail on the way back, so we could get a feel for the route. That day we ended up doing 136km which we didn’t expect. That was brutal!
Another day we did the Pennines and took Snake Pass back (which was the worst decision ever…the road just kept going up and up and up). We were both exhausted. With Mark’s epilepsy, if he overexerts himself, it could bring on a seizure, so I was really worried about him. We finally reached the top of Snake Pass and reached a 3km downhill but then there was hail (yes, hailstone in July!) and 50mph winds! Neither of us could see where we were going whilst travelling at 40mph down this hill. We finally made it back to the car and both hugged in relief that we made it back!’
How was the ride itself?
‘We cycled a total of 362km in 3 days using the Trans Pennine Trail to go Coast to Coast, from Southport to Hornsea. It was incredibly tough, especially our first day which was a 135km cycle. It was even more tough for Mark as he has epilepsy and he had a partial seizure 30km in on the first day, but he soldiered on for our Godsons.
With Mark’s seizures he has them every few weeks and we knew that it would come on one of our cycle days. Normally, when he has a seizure, they totally wipe him out and he needs rest to recover. That day we still had another 100km to do and then carry on for days after. He didn’t recover properly because of this and he had 2 in the same day about a week after the challenge.’
What would you say to anyone thinking of taking on a challenge to fundraise?
‘I would say do it, take the leap. Mark and I have said that this is probably the biggest thing we would accomplish in our lives. It was the hardest thing we have done in our lives, but, on the other hand, it was the best.
Every photo and every video we received from the boys with words of encouragement was amazing, and they were what got us through it, especially on the first day after Mark had his partial seizure.’
Laura has created a brilliant video to show their incredible challenge. Have a watch below!
Thank you for your incredible support, Laura and Mark!
Are you inspired by their challenge? Find out more about getting involved with CLAPA by clicking on the button below.