Tony Cotterill took on his second cycling fund raising challenge this year on Sunday 9 August to help raise money for BridgeHead’s UK supported charity, Action Medical Research. As previously reported, Tony was due to take part in the Ride Yorkshire event – 100km of cycling over three of the county’s largest hills. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this event was cancelled. However, Tony decided to do his own version of the event.

To find out more about it, please click on the link to the video he made below.

We caught up with Tony to ask a few more questions about the ride:

What bits of the ride did you enjoy the most?
It was probably counting down the hills to be honest. I stopped at each one and took a photograph of the view. And it was ‘one down, two to go’ in terms of the major hills. But, it was also the first time that I had done all of the hills in one ride, and the first time that I’d stopped long enough to look at the view.
Once you'd reached the top of that first hill, how did you motivate yourself to keep going, knowing there were still two more to do?
Pausing at the top meant that the downhill was ahead of you. So, I actually had the chance to feed, drink and take the picture knowing that the hard work of the ascent was about to be rewarded by a much easier descent.
What was the hardest part of the ride?
It was the last 20 miles. The first 12 miles were quite flat, then you suddenly have three steep hills between miles 12 and 40. After mile 40 it undulates, so you’re not without the hill, but there’s nothing dramatic after that. So, when it gets hard is actually when you’re on that last twenty miles. You’re plodding on, trying to get through, happy to have completed the hills, but just trying to get to the end.

This was a great achievement for me – it was the furthest I’ve ever gone, and the highest elevation I’ve ever done in one ride.

What started your passion for exercise?
It began in my late twenties – I started by running a mile and it nearly killed me. Then my sister-in-law said ‘there’s an 8 mile race in three months. So, we kind of worked out how we would train to do that and you just keep adding to it. We went from nothing to 8 miles in three months and over the next 8-9 years I kept running. I joined a running club and then I was doing half marathons. During the season, I was running two a month and getting speeds that I felt were very impressive.
How did you transition from running to cycling?
It started when I first came to live in Dorking with the Surrey Hills and what have you around. I got an off-road bike so I did Leif Hill and Box Hill and whatever else that’s around there. And that was it! So, I was running as my major thing and then I was off-roading for a bit of fun. Then we did a sport aid thing as BridgeHead and then Gareth Griffiths came up with this hare-brained scheme called Race the Sun and that really was the trigger.

I went from off-road to on-road. As I got older, the thought of hurtling down hills and heading for water streams hoping my brakes are going to work became less attractive. And cycling on the road is a bit more predictable. So, it was a natural transition.

What's next for you?
I’ve just taken up open water swimming, so we’ll see where that goes.

Watch this space, next year who knows what challenges Tony might take on – possibly a Triathlon? When we asked that question his response was rather cagey so we will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, if you would like to take part in a fundraising event, sporting or otherwise, or want to take part in a team event and aren’t sure where to start, contact Tony Cotterill or a member of the Marketing Department who can put you in touch with other people who are keen to do a group activity.