Rosie is 66 years old. She took up cycling eight years ago after her husband died as a way to keep fit and get out of the house. Since then she has achieved things most of the rest of us wouldn’t even have taken on in our younger and fitter years. Six years ago she cycled all the way around the island of Taiwan. Taiwan is not an island like Sark or even the Isle of Man. The journey around Taiwan is basically 1,200km of mountain roads in a tropical climate. That just whet her appetite for bigger things. With a year she had set off from Paris on her way to Singapore – a journey which took her through deserts, jungles and warzones.
Rosie’s philosophy is that you can meet almost any challenge if you approach it in the right way. Nobody said her bike rides had to be a race. She cycles at a leisurely pace and takes a break whenever she wants – to snap some photos, eat, rest or to say hello to the locals. When it comes to security, even in areas with active insurgencies, people don’t really know how to react to the sight of an elderly English lady riding her bicycle past men in camouflage holding AK47s. Most people are curious, friendly and keen to help out in any way they can.
Rosie can be an inspiration to us all. We live on such a beautiful planet, full of wonders which most of us never get to see or experience as we spend out lives in drab offices, staring at computer screens. Many will answer that they have to do that in order to pay their mortgages, car loans etc. Well, try telling that to Karl Bushby, who left the British Army with £400 in his pocket and decided to walk around the world. By simply putting one foot in front of the other, Karl has managed to walk the entire length of South America, from the ice lands of southern Chile to the jungles of Colombia, up through Central America and then the entire length of North America, back into the ice in Alaska. He then became the first man to ever cross the Bering Strait on foot (it frees over in winter) and is currently crossing Siberia on his way to Europe and the UK.
Rising to such a challenge not only can change your life, but can have a major impact on the lives of others – firstly as an inspiration and secondly with the money you can raise through sponsorship, you can make real difference for charities and those who rely on them.
If you’re not sure what kind of challenge suits you, start preparing for an unknown challenge anyway – go out for runs in the fields, buy a bicycle, take up rowing or at least buy a home rower to build up your fitness.
In 2014, English ska-rave group China Shop Bull pulled off a combined challenge to raise money for the Stroke Association. They played their music at the top of each of the tallest mountains in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But that was only after they had climbed the mountains, carrying their instruments, amplifiers, and a generator to provide power.
You, too can custom design your challenge. That way you’re more likely to see it through. Some of the more unusual challenges people have undertaken for charity include rolling a two pence coin the length of the island of Great Britain, from John O’Groats in the far north of Scotland, to Land’s End at the Atlantic tip of Cornwall. Some people got together and organised a backward-running marathon (great for the calves and quads, incidentally). Others have undertaken sponsored silences until they have raised their money-raising target. Be careful if you undertake the last of these, as some people might be so pleased at not having to listen to you witter on any more that you’ll find it extremely difficult to raise even a penny towards your target.
Whatever you decide to do, stick to it and prove you can meet the challenge. Life is for living and you’ve already proved you can sit in an office day after day, wasting away. Time to try something new!