Back in January 2018, Cycle Law Scotland’s founder and Senior Partner, Brenda Mitchell, had a bright idea.
“Let’s get a tandem for the office”, she said, “it will be a good laugh and will encourage all staff to get out of the office at lunchtimes; we might even be able to come up with a challenge and raise money for charity.”
So, the Peebles based firm bought a large framed Ridgeback aluminium tandem and came up with a challenge to cycle 1,500 miles in a year and raise funds for SCAA (Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance). Winter was harsh last year and the ‘Beast from the East’ put paid to cycling during March, so the challenge was reduced to 1,000 miles. For each mile notched up on the tandem, the firm agreed to donate £1 for SCAA. It may not seem that far, but if you work out how many lunchtime rides that equates to, then 100 rides averaging 10 miles per ride is quite a lot given everything else that goes on in a busy office.
A final push which meant the tandem was out twice a day with different pilots and stokers enabled the team to reach their target by 30thNovember 2018 which was the end of RTALS’ financial year. A total of £1200 was raised which also included donations from clients and other supporters.
Brenda was delighted with the collective effort commenting,
“As a team we have learned a lot. On the tandem, success comes down to trust, teamwork and communication. It’s the same approach we adopt at work for all of our clients.
“The tandem was ridden in various events including the Cycle Law Scotland Skinny Tweed, Ride to the Sun, Doddie’5 Ride for MND and the Tour o' the Borders. Most people are intrigued to see a tandem and it attracts a lot of attention. It moves pretty swiftly on the flat and can motor down the hills too. A speed of 51.3 mph down Paddy Slacks was achieved during Tour o’ the Borders which certainly tested the trust between stoker and pilot.
If we’d been given a tenner every time someone shouted out, “that person on the back is not pedalling,” we would have raised even more funds to donate to support the excellent work SCAA do. SCAA is our nominated charity and we have been supporting the great work they do for a number of years.
David Craig, Chief Executive of Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), expressed his gratitude to all those who cycled their way to success.
"SCAA is hugely indebted to everyone who helped realise this tremendous total through the Cycle Law Scotland Tandem Challenge,” he said.
"Raising charity funds while helping to stay fit and active is a great way for staff to get involved as a team and push themselves for a good cause. A fun active fundraiser such as the Tandem Challenge is a win-win situation for both those taking part and charities such as SCAA who are fortunate enough to benefit from the staff endeavours."
Prof Chris Oliver, retired trauma orthopaedic surgeon from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Professor of Physical Activity from Edinburgh University, praised the Cycle Law Scotland Tandem Challenge in two ways. He said, “Firstly, air ambulances can save vital minutes getting severely injured casualties to hospital and have been shown to not only save lives but also to improve the overall outcomes of the severely injured. Secondly, the novel tandem cycling challenge brings all the health benefits of cycling. It is well known that people who cycle have improved metabolic health and a reduced risk of premature mortality. Significantly, cycling reduces the risk factors for a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, some cancers, and Type II diabetes. I don't think people really appreciate that cycling also has positive effects on mental health and general wellbeing. The mental health and neurological benefits include reduced risk of dementia, improved sleep quality, and a greater sense of wellbeing. In environmental terms, health benefits accrue for the general population from a reduction in pollution due to car use and a decrease in road congestion. The overall evidence is that the health benefits of cycling outweigh any potential health risks and harms – for example from injury or pollution. Cycling on a tandem such a distance is also great teamwork and inspiring to get novices cycling.”
Now to think of an activity challenge for the year ahead…watch this space!