An Epic Challenge Completed – Appledore RNLI’s Tour de Yellow Welly.
Saturday 1 September saw the culmination of months of training for the Appledore RNLI Tour de Yellow Welly Team when they completed the 104 mile sponsored cycle ride from Appledore to Minehead Lifeboat Stations and back in one day.
The circular route through Exmoor included a total elevation height of 9136 feet, almost a third the height of Everest, including the infamous Countisbury Hill; all to raise money for Appledore RNLI.
The riders, Appledore RNLI volunteer crew members Richard Withey, Del Elesmore, Matt Rowe, Robbie Ward, Jeff Pavitt, and Carl Chessum, Appledore RNLI treasurer Robin Stoneman, and friends Greg Norman, Tori Loze, Mark Pooley, Steve Saunders and Phil Sweetland have raised in the region of £10,000 for Appledore RNLI, five times their original total and donations through https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tourdeyellowwelly and cheques made out to Appledore RNLI marked Tour de Yellow Welly on the back are still very welcome.
The team started at 7.40 am was accompanied by three support vehicles, also manned by Appledore RNLI volunteers. The first stop was Blackmoor Gate, the second, after a dip down through Lynmouth was the far side of Countisbury Hill. They reached Minehead Lifeboat Station via Porlock at around midday for a lunch stop, then up through Dunster and a massive hill climb, regrouping at Exford, and then near Exmoor Zoo before riding back to Bideford to regroup again to cycle down to Appledore as a Team arriving back together at the Lifeboat Station just before 5.30 pm.
Most of the team had cycled over 1000 miles in training for this event fitting rides between work, family life, lifeboat training and emergency shouts, starting at 5.15 am some mornings in the summer to get fit enough. Even so most found this to be a total endurance challenge. To quote one rider: ‘To have done 50 miles would have been too easy. It was the coming home that was hard, the burning and screaming pain in the legs after a hill climb made it as much a mental challenge as a physical one, but if you kept going it worked through the pain’.
Other quotes from the riders included: ‘The weather was kind, the hills were not!’ ‘Countisbury Hill – it’s a mountain!’, and ‘It was an incredible team effort for an incredible cause; just proud to be part of it’. ‘The welcome we got from the village when we got home and the support we have had locally has been brilliant, as has the amount of money raised. Thank you everyone’. The reason for the event going so well was not only down to all the support received from the crew, the support team, and locals, but the planning and organisation put on by the event organiser, crew member and team rider Richard Withey.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.