Determined Dad’s 80 mile cycle challenege
Friday 10th October 2014 @ 16:18 by Mark Phillip
Sports Stalybridge

“An absolute roller coaster of emotion” were the words 47 year old Tony Smith used to describe the feeling he endured on completing his mammoth fundraiser.

Tony with his cohort of fundraisers

Tony with his cohort of fundraisers

The taxi driver, who hails from Stalybridge, embarked on an 80 mile bike ride last Sunday in aid of Birmingham Children’s hospital ward 12.

The quest to generate money was inspired by the care his seven year old son has received over recent years during his dilapidating time in care.

So moved by the doctors selfless nature, the devoted father dusted off his bike and began to train for the gruelling event.

Speaking to Reporter Sport about the challenge, Tony detailed his scepticism prior to the ride. He said “when i told people about the fundraiser they didn’t quite believe i’d be capable of doing it.

“Even i was a little apprehensive at first, but once i’d completed 30 miles without breaking a sweat, i started to believe i could accomplish the feat.”

Tony alludes to a 30 mile practice ride undertaken four weeks before the event. Taking in sights of Manchester, Stalybridge and Ashton-under-lyne, the daring dad was ready for the big day ahead.

Despite originally intending to make the trek alone, his charitable endeavours captured the hearts of family and friends who took the decision to join him on the day.

“It was fantastic that my friends joined me in the pursuit to raise money and they truly did make the day all the more special.”

“If anything, they deserve just as much, if not more recognition than me, because they had done no training before the big day!”

Tony’s trusted compadres included Phillip Waite, Stephen Smiley, Gaynor Goodhall, Frank Hallsworth, Ryan Wightman and Lynn Smiley; the latter providing vehicle support from 30 miles and beyond.

Embarking on their journey at 7am, the bikers began their quest for success, equipped with bananas and bottles of isotonic liquid.

Divided into three separate stages, the journey undertook routes from Stalybridge to Leek, Leek down to Stafford, before finally navigating their way in the last section from Hungtington to the midlands Hospital.

Despite three gruelling legs, Tony maintained that the ride was easier than he originally imagined, but admitted the second phase became a bit of a struggle.

He added “As soon as we came out of a garage in Leek, we were faced with the prospect of some steep Derbyshire hills, so we collectively decided to go flatter and take a detour onto the a34.”

The group’s gallant efforts were rewarded with a picturesque selfie photo when they reached the Staffordshire Moorlands, raising morale for the descent into Birmngham.

However, the ride wasn’t as smooth as Tony would have liked, with a mechanical fault causing a slight problem during the last leg.

“We suffered a little set back when we approached Birmingham because one of the chains came off the bike and Frankie suffered a bit of cramp, but apart from that it was a nice way to finish.”

On crossing the finishing line, the group received a round of applause and messages of congratulations from hospital staff. Tony’s efforts plucked at the heart strings of people from across the globe, with family members in Canada calling him on completion.

“When we reached the hospital it was really overwhelming. I was so proud of my friends efforts and the way they had helped me raise money in such a selfless way” Tony said.

“I even got a phone call from members of my family who are living in Canada which made the effort all the more rewarding. It was a truly memorable day and one i’ll cherish forever.”

Tony’s efforts have so far been rewarded with £2064 on his justgiving page, with more money expected to accumulate over the next few days.

He said “A few of the riders still haven’t collected their sponsorship money yet so i’m sure that when they do the total figure will surpass my greatest expectations.”

Despite Tony maintaining the belief that the ride was a roller coaster of emotion, he was relieved to know that his friend, Mark Smith, would chaperone the fundraisers back up north in a hired minivan.

He told us “I mustn’t forget to mention my good friend Mark, who travelled down on the day in a van we hired and brought us-and the bikes- back home in one piece!”

Asked whether there were any other fundraising events in the pipeline, Tony jokingly reassured us that he intends to run a cake sale.

He added “joking aside, i do have some ideas for the foreseeable future and will want to push myself to the limit once again.

“The doctors and nurses at the hospital have been so good to my son over recent years that it only feels right to continue with my endeavours and do everything i can to show my appreciation for their exceptional efforts.”

With Christmas fast approaching, Tony hinted at the possibility of a festive fun night at Stalybridge’s Q Bar in the next few months.