Brian Chapman: From London to Bridport and back again

Brian Chapman, a trustee of Tax Help for Older People and supporter of Bridge the Gap, tells us in his own words about his 300-mile cycle in aid of the tax charities.

I have been a supporter of the BTG campaign for several years and was delighted to become a trustee of the Tax Help charity earlier this year. One of my passions has always been cycling and when I mentioned this to Penny Hamilton, chair of Tax Help, she suggested I do a sponsored ride to raise funds for the campaign. To begin with, I played this down, but the seed of an idea was planted and quite soon began to germinate!

I then wondered, how can I do a ride that is challenging enough to inspire donations while at the same time having some kind of tax “theme”? One day the idea struck me of riding between the offices of the two charities, one in London and the other in Dorset. Google maps told me this was around 150 miles. I figured that roughly I could manage around 75 miles a day so decided to cycle there and back over 4 days. The die was cast!

I wanted to get the ride done before the clocks changed so chose the first week in October. When I was doing the thinking for this, the weather was lovely (remember those warm September days?). As the ride approached it turned to sunshine and (heavy) showers and my mood darkened accordingly! I also developed a cold in the week before the ride so was unable to train properly.

On the day, it poured with rain during the night but by 7.15am when I left home it had stopped so I just had to navigate the numerous puddles on the roads. Frustratingly a westerly wind had picked up and so the first two days I spent battling that which felt like permanently cycling uphill.

The first day was a massive challenge and, at times, I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew. I had planned a long first day so that my second would be shorter to arrive at the Tax Help offices in good time to meet a few of the staff. The long day turned into a mammoth 118 miles and nearly 11 hours in the saddle.

I got lost a couple of times and ended the day riding down apparently scenic country lanes in the pitch black with a rapidly fading front light. I was very relieved to see the street lights of Salisbury at around 8.40 pm.

The next two days involved cycling through some beautiful parts of the country. Quiet country lanes and some blue skies. One very steep hill just outside of Bridport which I couldn’t plan around. Lots of tractors and other evidence of farming.

It was lovely to meet with a few of the Tax Help staff and just as lovely to then meet with a few of the TaxAid staff on my return to London at the end of the 4 days. Purple balloons and
bunting waiting for me was very touching!

I was really pleased to have completed the ride with no mishaps and, to date, have had nearly 100 donations totalling around £4,500 (£5,500 including gift aid).

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