Raising The Bar

Editor Ian Hunter got on his bike last month to take part in the Gamma Charity Mountain Bike Challenge 2015 on the award-winning mountain bike trails of Cannock Chase Forest in Staffordshire.

When I first received the news that Comms Business Magazine were sponsoring the Gamma Charity Mountain Bike Challenge I thought it was a great idea – raising money for worthy causes such as the Samaritans and the children’s charity Rays of Sunshine seemed a great idea and one I supported. Then I did something rather stupid – I volunteered to take part.

This was on the basis that if Gamma CEO Bob Falconer could do it then so could I. Then I found out that Bob is a bit more than just a keen cyclist and appeared in the press release picture issued by Gamma of him and his clearly well ridden bike to be as fit as a butcher’s dog.

I went in to training by going on a two-week all-inclusive (food and drink) holiday with a bunch of friends safe in the knowledge that my motivation would prevail and I would return in Olympic form.

This-2And that is exactly how it turned out – I was the Eddie The Eagle of mountain biking.

There was an entry fee of £150 per person and Gamma hosted a charity auction as part of the event, with all money raised going directly to the nominated charities.

The event took place over Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th June and was touted as being ideal for both occasional and seasoned bikers.

I got a pre-event motivational message from Bob Falconer saying, “We’re really looking forward to this year’s Gamma Charity Mountain Bike Challenge and are thrilled to be supporting two fantastic charities; Samaritans and Rays of Sunshine. As well as raising funds for these well-deserving causes, it’s a great opportunity to spend a couple of days in the Staffordshire countryside with fellow cycling enthusiasts from around the channel. ”

Meanwhile, Dan Cunliffe, Director, Rock Systems told me, “I find the Gamma charity events fantastic. Not only are they a great networking opportunity, you get to raise money for good causes too. All in all they are always something great to be a part of and we can’t wait for the Charity Mountain Bike Challenge.”

Over the two days, participants worked together in teams to complete various activities including mountain bike orienteering, mountain bike trail riding and distant riding time trial.

Cannock Chase is an enclosed forest with a permanent mountain bike area, with many trails and tracks, as well as some great views and scenery.

As it turned out I could not make the first day but pitched up for the morning of the second day. I had a go at one of the trails – they are graded by colours just like ski slopes – so a moderate green sounded OK to me.

Well! All I can say is that this was not cycling as I knew it and about a million miles away from the Andover ring road. Never the less I managed to reach the bottom of the run without mishap passing as I did a rider walking back to base carrying a piece of his broken bike in each hand. Ouch!

He clearly had not read the disclaimer saying, ‘The riding will be challenging but fun and you can take it as fast or slow as you like.’

Paul Johnson, Managing Director of Miles Publishing said, “Well done to all that took part. It was great to see Gamma come up with a fresh idea for their channel and raise £4000.00 for charity at the same time.”

Anyway, the sun shone continuously for Gamma and their partners for the duration and a great time was had by all. Can’t wait for next year…


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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine