Cyclist finishes her 5,000-mile charity challenge
MORE than £8,000, over 5,000 miles and just one lone shop owner.
This sums up a charity challenge only the bravest of people might take up – and one that Jo Wooliams completed quietly on her own.
The 49-year-old has recently returned after cycling completely solo from the west to the east coast of Canada to raise money for Cancer Research – raising £8,000 for the British charity and $3,000 for the Canadian equivalent.
The owner of the Chilli Pepper Cook Shop, in Eastgate, Louth, left her business and her husband, Robert, for three-and-a-half months to cycle an average of 60 miles a day.
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She took on the challenge after finding a lump in her chest, which was found to be benign, shortly before two close friends were diagnosed with the disease.
"It was quite a shock," said Jo. "I was suddenly hit with this realisation that you reach a certain age and things can start to happen.
"I wanted to do something positive and to raise awareness of Cancer Research and the importance of getting yourself checked.
"When I announced it to my friends, they thought I was crazy, but when I say I am going to do something, I do – so they knew I was serious.
"I had never cycled before. I am just an average 49-year-old, but I knew I had to do something big, and it had to be challenging."
Throughout the winter, Jo trained tirelessly, and meticulously worked out her route and the average amount of cycling she would have to do a day.
She set off from Vancouver and finished in Halifax, Nova Scotia, travelling through breath-taking scenes from the treacherous terrain of the Rocky Mountains to the picturesque Prairies, and collecting donations as she went.
Her highlight was reaching the half-way point, the Great Lakes, but road closures and traffic diversions were by far her lowest.
She continued: "When I saw the Great Lakes out in front of me I knew I was halfway there.
"It was an incredible feeling. I loved seeing all the wildlife up close, too.
"But detours and bridge closures drove me mad! It would mean some days I was riding for a lot longer than I anticipated."
During those low points, thinking of her friends and other people who were battling cancer is what pushed Jo on.
"I thought whatever pain I was in, cancer sufferers were going through far more. Hanging onto that made every day so easy to get up and do it," she said.
"I feel very thankful for everything I have. Even little things are really important to me and I really cherish my friends.
"It was very lonely out there. I hadn't quite realised how busy the UK is until I came home. It was lovely to come back."
You can still sponsor Jo by logging on to www.edgetoedgecanada.com