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Brooke’s static cycling challenge for charity
IT can be hard for dads and their teenage daughters to find a common interest.
But for John and Brook Smith, of Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, a shared love of cycling has brought them closer together.
The pair try to get out on their bikes together as often as they can. But now they are preparing to test their cycling ability to the limit.
Fifteen-year-old Brook, a pupil at Deanes School, Thundersley, will be cheered on by her dad as she cycles a staggering 100 miles in one day.
The challenge, which John believes Brooke can complete in fewer than six hours, is all in aid of a two-week school trip to Uganda.
Year 9 pupils at Deanes School are travelling to the African country to help build a new school, teach games and interact with children.
Most 15-year-olds might think jumble sales, bake-offs, or car washes would good ways to contribute towards the £25,795 cost of the trip, but Brook is certainly going the extra mile.
“At first she decided a bike ride wasn’t the right way to go about raising the money for Uganda”, John explained.
"Then she said to me she was going to do a 30-mile ride with her friend.
“She did that, and then I think she realised she needed more of a challenge.
“Everyone knows she’s a keen cyclist, so 30 miles was going to be a bit too easy for her.
“We sat down together and came up with a plan for her 100 mile challenge.”
The 100-mile bike ride will not take place in the great outdoors, but on a static bike in the gymat Virgin Active, in Rayleigh Road, Thundersley.
Brooke, an Echo papergirl who has donated all her wages over the past eight months to the cause, said: “It’s a lot harder to cycle inside on a static bike rather than outside on the open roads, but dad said it would be better, to allow lots of people to come and cycle for different durations to support and help me.
“I’m hoping the recent 30-mile cycle event and visits I’ve made to the velodrome track in Glasgowwill help me, although I know being in the saddle for 100 miles could be the issue.”
John, 45, is helping his daughter prepare for the bike ride, which will take place on Sunday, May 25, at the same time as training for his own epic challenge just a week later.
For the second year in a row, John is taking on the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. The ordeal sees 2,000 swimmers take to the shark-infested waters surrounding Alcatraz prison, before they get on their bikes and put on their running shoes to test themselves to the limit on the streets of San Francisco.
Terrified wife Vicki, 45, will look on – but Brooke, twin sister Brogan, and eldest daughter Ellie-Jade, 19, will stay at home to focus on jobs and exams.
Last year, the annual event was tarred by tragedy after one of the competitors sadly died of a heart attack while taking on the swim.
John said: “It was frightening enough to do it last year as swimming isn’t my strongest point, and the water is home to sharks, and it’s even more terrifying after what happened.
“You have to be deemed fit enough to take part in the triathalon, so it was a total shockthe man died.
“I realised something was up as soon as I got to the finish line.
The atmosphere was really sombre, and people weren’t celebrating with their families like you would expect.
“Everyone thinks I’m crazy for doing it again.”
The father and daughter inspired each other to become such keen cyclists, and if it wasn’t for one another they probably wouldn’t be gearing up for their extreme challenges.
John added: “I have always been into cycling, but I left it behind for a long time when I had a family.
“Brooke and her sisters started taking part in triathlons, and they basically got me back into it.
“I was inspired by my children to start cycling again.
“We used to go out on our bikes as a family a lot, but now it’s only really Brook who is still interested.
“She’s always up for cycling, she doesn’t need an excuse. She loves it like I do.”
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