Dad-of-two Stuart Cooper, 43, and his nephew Alex Davies, a plasterer and part-time firefighter from Euxton, are taking on an epic cycle ride across Vietnam this winter, tackling rugged terrain, bustling cities, scorching climates and jungles!
The duo have chosen to raise sponsorship for St Catherine’s through the gruelling challenge, and Stuart – a property developer from Hutton – is writing a series of blogs to record his training and experiences throughout the mammoth endurance feat.
In his first blog for St Catherine’s, he explains what the challenge will involve, where the incredible idea came from, and why they’re backing the hospice from the other side of the world.
On November 8th myself and Alex will set off from Hanoi on bicycles for an epic 2,000 kilometre ride down the length of Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City. We’ll be cycling for around eight or nine hours each day for 23 days, plus a rest day in Hue about half way through. It’s a well-known route so I’ve been reading blogs about it, and we should finish the ride on 1st December.
The cycling trip will be entirely unsupported and we will not be taking any camping equipment, we’ll just have a couple of bags on the back of our bikes – we’ll need to travel light with just a couple of changes of clothes which we’ll need to wash and dry as we go along. We intend to stay in guest houses, hotels or even local family homes but nothing is booked, so every day will be different.
The route we intend to take is along the scenic Ho Chi Minh Highway which runs north to south through some of the most breath-taking scenery and jungle of Vietnam. There will be heat, rain, everything – I’m looking forward to experiencing the unknown, including the food!
Why are we doing this? We are both keen cyclists and want to challenge ourselves by doing something completely different to what we are used to. I like cycling and we wanted to do something epic, and I’ve always wanted to visit Vietnam, so I thought why not cycle the length of it and experience the whole country in this way?
We also thought it would be a good opportunity to raise money for St Catherine’s, which is our local charity and cares for people with serious illness such as cancer, heart failure, and motor neurone disease. We know people who have received care from the hospice, and we know people who have worked or volunteered for the charity. It’s a great way for us to combine fitness, travel, culture and charity.
I’m really excited about the trip and I’m up for the challenge. I’m used to cycling long distance; I’ve been doing about 200km a week, training in the Lake District and doing the Guild Wheel back-to-back. I’ve done a few cycling holidays in Europe but I’ve never done a sponsored challenge before. It’s going to be an exciting adventure!