The Burma Cycle Challenge
In February 2015 Alison Hood completed her 15th charity challenge by cycling over 350 km across Burma from Mandalay to Inle Lake raising £3,700 for Scottish Autism. Below is an account of her challenge.
After experiencing a 30 hour delay and 55 hours of travelling time, we started our cycle at 7am in the morning. We had no chance to acclimatize and break into our cycle gently as we had to make up for lost time. In temperatures which reached 37 degrees at midday, we cycled 120km through villages, farms and small towns, experiencing the Burmese way of life first hand, a truly fascinating adventure. On route we passed beautiful temples, pagodas and statues of the Buddha, which made the days cycling all the more spectacular. The day came to a close with a boat trip up the mighty Irrawaddy River. Our reward that evening was to experience the sunset from the top of one of the thousands of temples in Bagan.
Another hard days cycling saw us conquer 112 km uphill to the top of Mt Poppa. The heat was unbearable at one point and steep hills are not my forte but determination kept me going, together with the encouragement from my charity challenge leader. The view from my hotel room when I eventually arrived at the top of Mt Poppa was absolutely stunning and well worth the effort I thought to myself as I lay exhausted looking out to the view before me. An extra benefit on this day was the experience of climbing 940 steps in bare foot, as is the custom, to the top of a holly shrine at the foot of Mt Poppa. A cheeky monkey stole my bottle of water at the top when I put it down to take a photo of some monks. I was warned!
Days 3 & 4
Numerous more hills were climbed with temperatures soaring but the reward at the end of day 4 was to visit a school and meet the children. The children always make these trips special and this was definitely a special day that I will never forget.
The final day consisted of a steady ride through a village where we witnessed the locals making Burmese pasta in its various stages. I was amazed to see the little sections of pasta lying out to dry on sheets on the ground after being cut manually by scissors. We then cycled to Inle Lake where we had lunch and after visiting another stunning temple complex we took a boat along the lake to witness the fascinating daily life of the Inle Lake people and their stilted houses. We then cycled another 25km to the finishing line and ended our challenge with a celebratory dinner that evening.
This cycle through Burma was one of the toughest but best weeks of my life and I will never forget this beautiful country and its lovely people. I feel very privileged to have cycled through this land where tourism is in its infancy and the country is still unspoilt whilst at the same time raising money for Scottish Autism. Having not been on a bike since I was 16 until 4 years ago and still hesitant on British roads, I can honestly say that doing a challenge like this in a group with excellent guides who encourage you and sheer determination means you are capable of more than you could possibly imagine! This trip had it all! As usual I am hooked. Cycle Brazil cannot come fast enough…
Would you like to take on your own charity challenge and raise money for Scottish Autism? There are so many amazing events to choose from including treks through the Sahara Desert, The Great Wall of China and the Canadian Rockies, or if cycling’s more your thing there’s the Cuba Cycle Challenge or the Death Valley Cycle in California! Visit our fundraising pages to see our full list of upcoming events and let us know which one you’d like to take on!