The 11-man Cycling Souters team did themselves and Selkirk Rugby Club proud by completing the 515-mile Doddie Cup 500 cycle ride to Cardiff bang on schedule on Saturday morning, reports John Smail.
They were part of a 105-strong cycling group who rode from BT Murrayfield to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in just over 48 hours, in the process raising over £250,000 for Doddie’s Weir’s MND charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The ride was organised by Doddie’s former Scotland and British & Irish Lions team-mate, Rob Wainwright, with the aim of delivering the match ball in time to be used in the Wales v Scotland fixture for the Doddie Weir Cup.
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The Cycling Souters’ team comprised ex- internationalists Gordon Hunter, Graham Marshall and Iwan Tukalo, Selkirk RFC vice-president David Anderson, ex-Selkirk players Tommy Knox, Kenny Pearce, Kevin Fairbairn and Allen Jamieson, as well as ex-Boroughmuir scrum half Mike Hall.
Former Selkirk players Lawrence McPherson and John Smail travelled with the team as support crew.
Having set an original fund-raising target of £5000, over the course of the ride the Cycling Souters were astonished to see funds donated by friends, family and sponsors rocket to over £18,000.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity,” said Cycling Souters’ team captain Gordon Hunter.
“The messages of support the boys received during the ride helped us all to keep going and we can’t thank our supporters and sponsors enough for their fantastic generosity – we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Thankfully, weather conditions during the ride – apart from the initial stretch from Edinburgh to Mosspaul – proved ideal, although the hilly terrain in Wales was particularly daunting.
Leading the ride were former Scotland skipper Rob Wainwright and record-breaking round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont, who each rode the full distance – as did a handful of other cyclists.
Rugby clubs along the route hosted the riders by providing food and facilities – and sleeping quarters in the case of the Birkenhead and Gloucester clubs.
The first official stop on the way to Wales was Philiphaugh, where Selkirk Rugby Club’s bar & events manager, Ann Hogg, and a team of volunteers provided the riders with soup, hot food and energy snacks.
Rob Wainwright said Selkirk “had set a high benchmark” at the start of the ride and every other rugby club had done their best to ensure the riders were well fed, watered and rested.
With some of the sections not finishing until 1.30am, followed by a 4.30am start, the Doddie Cup 500 event was certainly not for the faint-hearted.
“Conditions were definitely challenging,” said Cycling Souters’ road captain, Allen Jamieson, whose meticulous preparation and route plotting ensured each team member recorded rides over the two days totalling 120 miles or so.
“The night riding could sometimes be tricky but I’m pleased to say all our boys pulled their weight. The pride we felt cycling into Cardiff on the Saturday morning, alongside all the other riders, was something none of us will ever forget.”
Team member Kevin Fairbairn put together ‘thank you’ packages containing, among other things, a Selkirk Bannock and a miniature of Selkirk Gin, which the Souter Cyclists presented to each of the rugby clubs hosting them.
Anyone still wishing to sponsor the Cycling Souters, and in so doing support the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, can do so by following this link – https://www.justgiving.com/team/TheCyclingSouters