Our Operations Director, Esther Hayes, has recently returned from a grueling 450km bicycle ride from Vietnam to Cambodia, in which she managed to raise, with her twin sister, over £5,500 for Women v Cancer.
In this interview, Esther gives us a glimpse into the stunning journey across two of South East Asia’s most fascinating countries, and how she prepared for the mammoth ride.
Hi Esther. Congratulations on finishing the ride! How did you get on?
The terrain was pretty flat, with reasonably good concrete and tarmac surfaces for most of the route. The shortest days were around 30 miles and the longer ones between 60 and 70 miles. But the intense heat, especially in the middle of the day, made it really tough.
The group consisted of 84 women (which was a challenge in itself!), all raising money for the three women’s cancer charities. As a group, we raised over £330,000.
Why did you choose to take part in this event?
My sister, Alison, suggested it after an email casually dropped into her inbox advertising the challenge. She thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get fit. I wasn’t impressed (I am not a keen cyclist), but a number of my friends and family have had cancer – most recently Alison – and we both felt we’d like to help others in the same situation.
How did you prepare for the race?
We enrolled two years ago but didn’t really get started training until this year. With the encouragement of my husband (who is a very enthusiastic cyclist) I went out on my bike every weekend, increasing the distance each week. We organised several joint training weekends with Alison, when we would cycle both days, again increasing the distances over time.
Did you have an opportunity to see the sights?
We saw a lot of rural life in both countries as we cycled through, and we had a day off at the end of the challenge to see the temples at Angkor Wat.
How do you maintain your energy levels on such a long ride?
The event was very well organised, with regular and frequent water stops, snack stops and lunch. On the longer days, we couldn’t linger at each stop, but it was sufficient to recover your strength and carry on.
Can you describe the hardest day?
That was definitely the second day of cycling, in Vietnam. The route was 62 miles, much of it on exposed roads, and the temperature in the middle of the day was over 40 °C. It felt as if someone was taking a blow-torch to your skin. My face and knees blistered badly. It was much worse than I had imagined it could be; a very difficult day.
What was highlight of the trip?
We’re extremely proud of Esther and Alison for completing such a physically demanding task for a worthy cause, close to so many peoples’ hearts. There’s still time to donate if you would like to show your support. You can do so by clicking here.