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Glenbarr man Robbie Semple has spoken of his pride in being part of a team of Argyll cyclists who raised more than £10,000 for Scotland rugby legend Doddie Weir’s motor neurone disease (MND) charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation by pedalling more than 500 miles in 48 hours.
Led by Doddie’s former Scotland and British and Irish Lions teammate and Isle of Coll resident Rob Wainwright and cyclist, broadcaster and author Mark Beaumont, 100 riders set off in teams from BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Thursday February 10.
Their goal, which they achieved, was to deliver the match ball for the Wales v Scotland Doddie Weir Cup rugby match at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday February 12.
Robbie, a keen cyclist who has taken part in numerous charity rides in the past, became involved with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation fundraiser through his role as manager of ATV Services Scotland’s Argyll and the Isles depot.
He and John Yuille, ATV Services Scotland’s managing director, jumped at the chance to support one of the teams, offering to drive a support van alongside the cyclists.
‘The team was mostly made up of Coll farmers who are customers of ours at ATV Services,’ explained Robbie. ‘We’ve been dealing with them for many years and, as I’m into cycling and John is a rugby fan, we offered to support the riders.’
Although Robbie and John initially signed up to share the driving, John ended up behind the wheel the entire way as Robbie joined the cyclists, pedalling about 100 miles between Friday and Saturday.
‘I took two of my bikes to be used as spares or in case anything happened and one of the riders wasn’t able to cycle which happened on the second day,’ explained Robbie.
‘We travelled from Edinburgh to Birkenhead between Thursday and early on Friday morning and the weather was very, very poor. We were battling strong headwinds and it took a lot out of the riders.
‘On the Friday morning, I paired up with one of the riders and we rode while four rested and recovered.
‘We did 30-mile stints like that, which is what most teams did, apart from one or two who cycled the full 500 miles.
‘I didn’t jump into doing the cycling straight away because we had to pace ourselves and make sure safety was maintained and everyone was fresh for doing what they had to do.’
He added: ‘We were very lucky as we did the whole thing incident free, with no punctures or problems.’
Robbie described it as ‘a great event’, raising awareness and funds for ‘a very worthwhile’ cause.
‘MND research is underfunded and less prominent than the work of lot of other charities, and Doddie has really raised the profile of it,’ he said.
‘Our wee team raised about £10,500, thanks to everyone who supported us.
‘On the Isle of Coll, there’s only 20 miles of single-track road, so to train in a short period and go out and cycle 500 miles is a big achievement for the team!’
He added that many people in Kintyre have also supported the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation by taking part in this year’s Doddie Active Inter-District (AID) Challenge.
The mass-participation exercise event pits five teams, The South, Edinburgh, Glasgow, North and Midlands, and Scottish Exiles – the old Scottish inter-district rugby union championship teams – against each other in a bid to rack up the most miles walked, run, cycled etc, to raise funds and awareness for the charity.
‘I think I completed about 870 miles in first six weeks of the year,’ said Robbie, ‘and I know others from Kintyre took part too.’
Although the Edinburgh to Cardiff cycling challenge was a triumph, the same cannot be said for Scotland’s performance in Wales, as the team was beaten 20-17 by the hosts.
Thankfully, Robbie didn’t have to suffer too much during the match as he was so exhausted after his epic cycle that he momentarily nodded off!