Pittencrieff Park, Tuesday, 18th December: Today, Dunfermline cyclist Ross Duncan embarked on a challenge which will see him riding 124km per day for 124 consecutive days in a herculean effort to raise funds for CHAS.
On the 125th day, Ross aims to complete hill repetitions totalling an ascent of 15,404 ft. He will undertake the challenge in a combination of outdoor riding and (when the Fife winter becomes prohibitive) using a state-of the art indoor terrain simulator called Zwift.
Ross, a 32 year-old IT Technician, will total 15,404 km by the time he's over the finish line in 18 weeks' time. His goal is to raise a pound for every kilometre cycled and every baby, child and young person in Scotland who currently has palliative care needs.
As a member of Dunfermline Cycling Club, Ross has completed various endurance cycling challenges in the past and cycled nearly 13,000 miles this year. Speaking of the task ahead, he said: "I've been bowled over by the response so far - we're nearly £2,000 into the target. I'm thrilled to be taking this on in aid of CHAS - the work that they do for the many families who need them, especially at this time of year, is crucial.
"This particular challenge is the equivalent of riding from Dunfermline to London and back 12 times. Then on the final day I will ascend the height of Everest almost twice! We are blessed in Fife, as we are all over Scotland, with an extensive National Cycle Network that will take me through significant stretches of the challenge. Due to the time of year it is safe to say I will be on the paths as often as I'll be using Zwift; an online indoor training tool."
Zwift is a multiplayer online training program that enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world. Anyone who would like to join Ross - either on the road in the flesh, or in the virtual world, can do so whenever he rides.
Laura Campbell, Community Fundraiser at CHAS, said: "Ross is already off to a great start. We are incredibly thankful to him for taking on such a test of physical and mental endurance for the benefit of our families and wish him well. We hope to see riders and supporters come out to encourage him, both on the road or through the wonders of technology.
"A bold undertaking like this one certainly helps make all the odds for CHAS. Just one day's care in Robin and Rachel House is £5,650 each and it costs CHAS £12,750 every day to provide care in hospices, homes and in hospitals. In December alone, CHAS will spend more than £400,000 to make sure children and families get to enjoy precious time together in a relaxed, caring and joyous environment."
The local cycling community has rallied to give Ross the support he needs to complete the challenge - Dunfermline Cycling Club provided a training kit, while Nicholson's Cycles in Dundee (where Ross is originally from) have sponsored a new road bike.
Commenting, Dunfermline and West Fife MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said: "It's wonderful to see Ross going the extra mile for CHAS. Every pedal he takes will help CHAS continue with the important work they do to support children and families across Scotland. I'm delighted to see the community getting behind Ross. The best of luck to him as he takes on this incredible challenge."
Pictured above is Ross Duncan, setting off from Dunfermline's historic Pittencrieff Park.