This month (October), cycling enthusiast Sam Smuts is taking on an epic cycling challenge to raise vital funds for WheelPower, the National Chairty for Wheelchair Sports.
Sam, from Aylesbury, plans to cycle 1,000 miles over the month, raising £1 for every mile she completes. Like so many charities across the UK, WheelPower has been hugely impacted by the cancellation of fundraising events due to COVID-19. It is expected that the charity’s fundraising will reduce by 50 per cent because of the virus: support from people like Sam is vital at this time.
The charity provides opportunities for disabled people of all ages to access sport and physical activity through the UK. This year, the charity has created online resources to help people isolated in their homes and fill the gap left by the closure of sporting facilities.
Born in South Africa, Sam moved to the UK in 2007 and has been passionate about fundraising ever since, she says: “Every year I try to do my bit to support WheelPower by entering the Tour De Vale and this year I wanted to set myself a new challenge.
“It’s a charity close to my heart and how else best to support them, by doing what I love to do – cycle.”
With a competitive nature, Sam normally takes part in WheelPower’s annual Tour de Vale cycling rides as well as other sporting pursuits. She has been a runner, completed ultra-marathons and played for her local rugby team, but now cycling is her main sporting passion.
Sam describes herself as: “One of these crazy people who has tried everything! If I set myself a challenge I will push myself to do it and quite often break myself a little in the process.”
Sam now has her licence to enter cycling races, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant she has yet to do so.
Despite being diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in 2019, Sam continues to take on new challenges and has set her sights on reachable targets while she recovers. Now injury free, she is on to her next idea.
1,000 for £1,000
The idea for her 1,000 mile cycle came to Sam when she decided with friends that they would ride the biggest distances they could during September 2020. At this time, Sam was in Majorca and wanted to complete the miles on difficult mountain roads.
Over 746 miles later, Sam had completed more than double of the person in second place so her friend jokingly suggested she should go for 1,000. Not one to back down from a challenge, Sam set the idea in motion and is now cycling the distance for WheelPower.
“A friend of mine put the insane idea into my head by setting the cycling challenge last month, and now in October I am going to be cycling 1,000 miles in 30 days, and I am hoping to raise a £1 for every mile along the way,” explains Sam.
Due to the UK’s unpredictable weather, Sam plans on doing most of the challenge on her turbo trainer at home. The trainer, along with a compatible app, gives Sam the opportunity to ride real life routes from Mount Ventoux in France to Box Hill in Surrey.
In order to make the 1,000 miles this month, Sam will have to ride at least 33.3 miles every day.
“During the pandemic I have been working from home so cycling will really help to break up my day,” reveals Sam. “It has been a mental struggle at times and doing this challenge will require mental strength to carry on day to day, especially as I will be doing the majority of it in my front room.
“Having only started cycling in the past few years I now really do love it. I know that I will be able to rise to this challenge and I also know first-hand the importance of keeping healthy minds through sporting activities during these strange times in which we find ourselves.”
You can learn more about Sam’s challenge and show your support here.