Nepal and it’s people hold a special place in my heart – I have been fortunate to visit four times and each time I’ve fallen more in love with the place, the people and their culture.
Shocked and sad about the earthquake I felt pretty helpless in the comfort of my home, wondering how I could help. I have good friends who were out there at the time of the earthquake, some were even on Everest when the quake hit and through their charities I was able to make donations that I knew would be used wisely.
My donations felt like a tiny drop in the ocean and I wondered how I could encourage other people to donate and I hit upon the idea of rewarding donations to my friends charities with Toblerone.
A good friend had given me a giant bar of Toblerone for Easter. And when I say giant, I mean 4.5kgs! I decided I would deliver a chunk of Toblerone for each donation. Where possible I would deliver in person; by foot, by ElliptiGo or by car.
I thought to myself, even if I only get a couple of donations it’s better than nothing. I was overwhelmed by the response, in just a few days all the chunks were gone (there were 12) and some people even re donated their chunk so that I could put them up for delivery again. Thanks to everyone’s generosity we raised £1,130.00!!!
I’ve almost delivered all the chunks and it’s been lovely to catch up with (and in some cases meet the people) who donated. Thank you all xxx
Please check the links below to see the good work these charities are doing and also if you can donate, please do. It all makes a difference.
It’s four years today since I was on top of the world, literally.
I’m careful where I use the word luck, because to hold luck responsible for something isn’t always accurate and can take away from the effort involved. However, I can definitely say, especially in light of recent events in Nepal, I was lucky enough to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
This morning there was news of a second huge earthquake in Nepal and I wanted to help, I wanted to do something. My single donation felt like a drop in the ocean but together with other donations all of a sudden ‘we’ can make a difference.
I had an idea to reward donations with Toblerone. A dear friend, knowing my love for chocolate, had recently given me a 4.5kg bar of Toblerone and I thought, perhaps people will donate to the efforts in Nepal and in return I can share a huge chunk of chocolate.
That was this morning. Just 10hours later through generous donations, the Toblerone is almost gone and the £500 target that I wanted to raise has been met.
I can’t think of a better way to have recognised my summit anniversary than to have contributed to the efforts being made to help re build Nepal.
There is still a few chunks of Toblerone left, so if you can donate, please do. I have chosen the following four charities to support because I personally know the people who are responsible for where the funding is going.
Last year I was part of the Wings of Kilimanjaro team; the largest group to ever summit the world’s tallest free standing mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and Nepalese Pilot Sano Babu Sunuwar and his guide Matthew Lyimo successfully flew from the summit. The project raised over $600,000 for charities on the ground in Tanzania and one of those charities was The One Foundation.
The One Foundation began when founder, Duncan Goose, saw a photograph in The Guardian newspaper… The story of what happened next … and ten years later is incredible.
The One Foundation to date have raised over 10 million pounds and have saved and changed the lives of over 2.5million people in Africa by funding sustainable development projects and providing access to clean drinking water.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Duncan and the team at one, a very inspirational group of individuals who show, beyond doubt, the incredible difference we can make to other people lives if we want to.
Searching for the Kiberan Girl – a film by talented filmaker and humanitarian Toby Richards.
To most people reading The Guardian on Dec 15th 2003, the photo of the week was just a poignant photo among a sea of coverage on Saddam Hussein’s capture, but to Duncan Goose it changed everything. The photo of the girl by the padlocked tap drove him to learn more about the water problems in the world — and ultimately inspired him to turn what had previously just been an idea — into reality.
Because of this photo, Duncan quit his job, remortgaged his house and focused 100% of his time on launching a philanthropic brand that would that donate 100% of its profit to funding water projects — One Water and The One Foundation were born.
10 years on and over £10m has been raised, changing the lives of over 2.5m people. And last year, Duncan decided to go back and try to find the girl in the photo. Who was she? Where is she now? What is her story?
In March 2014, he learned the harsh realities of life in Kibera first hand, when he finally met the photographer Marco Longari, and Ann Njeri Kibuki, now 15 years old.
I was only back in the UK for a few weeks before beginning The Go Trek with Dave Cornthwaite – a 3074mile, two month journey around Europe by ElliptiGo. Not only did I get into the best shape physically that I’ve ever been in, I was delighted to get to know the inspirational team at Coppafeel – the fab boob charity we raised over £3000 for – and also to meet so many generous, kind and lovely people along the way.
Before returning back to the UK I rode to Aix Les Bains in France where I took part in the ElliptiGo European Championships. A great event and brilliant to get to know more of the ElliptiGo community.
In September I was excited to meet up with Ranulph Finnes, Kenton Cool and the Powertraveller Team at The Royal Geographical Society where we were working on a project for the new Powertravller product (due to be released in early 2014).
October and November saw the confirmation of a plan that has been bubbling away in the back ground for a while now. I took a trip to the States to get to work on pre production and training for a new adventure travel series that I will be filming in 2014 with an amazing team! The biggest surprise of that trip was learning to BASEJump!!
The year concluded with a trip to South Africa, I was in the sunshine for Christmas and while I was there I took the opportunity to climb Table Mountain.
Even in this quick round up of the year its easy to see that I’ve been able to do some wonderful things in incredible places and raise money for very good causes.
Last week I had the pleasure of going to the Royal Geographical Society in London for a days filming with ‘one of Britain’s leading alpine climbers with record hard first ascents and eleven successful Everest summits’ and ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’.
We are all ambassadors for Powertraveller who design, develop and manufacture portable power solutions keeping essential lines of communication open whilst ‘off-grid’.
Powertraveller have been working on a remarkable new product that is going to be a real game changer in the industry. Ahead of its launch early next year we came together to film the product, see how it works, discuss the limitless power it provides and share our experiences and thoughts.
The Powertraveller team; Jerry, Emma, Will, Mark and Hannah were all on top form when we arrived and Emma soon became everyone’s favourite person when she produced freshly baked home made ginger and chocolate cookies.
I’ve met Kenton and Ran before (Sir Ranulph instantly made me feel comfortable saying “call me Ran”) and it was great to spend more time with them and get to know them better. Kenton’s energy was overflowing, just back from a bike race in the Pyrenees he was bright eyed, full of enthusiasm and ready to give Ran and I a hard time whenever possible! Ran was lovely and with just a few days until the deadline to proof read his latest book, ‘Cold’, we discussed whether the title should have an exclamation mark after it or not.
Talking about a new product that’s brilliant wasn’t difficult. Talking about a new product concisely and putting it together while being filmed standing next to Ranulph Fiennes and Kenton Cool was a little more tricky. Kenton likened our task to something from the Krypton factor, which apparently Ran has been on and I had watched….when I was six!
Throughout the day we got chatting about various things including knickers. We were on the subject of mottos and sayings and Ran said he liked the phrase ‘we have two ears and one mouth so we should perhaps listen more and say less’. Of course Kenton and I were very quiet all day so this was unlikely to have been directed at us! He asked if I had a motto so I told him about my Knickers Philosophy – ‘if your knickers are right then your day goes right’. A large grin appeared on his face and he said he liked it.
It was a brilliant day. I love working with the Powertraveller team (especially when Em has been baking) and it was a real treat to spend the day with Ran and Kenton.
Before we finished we all Copp’ed a feel for Coppafeel showing our support for the charity who’s mission it is to stamp out the late detection and mis-diagnosis of breast cancer by ensuring that you recognise the early signs and symptoms.
During the day I was fully aware of the company I was keeping – both Kenton and Ranulph are legends. That evening Kenton and I were having a drink with a mutual friend who we both know is a business man…turns out he used to work for MI5 and we were basically having drinks with a real life James Bond…quite an ending to an already epic day!
When I finished The Go Trek in July there were whisperings about me entering the first official European ElliptiGo race. Honestly, I was a little tired and thought ….no!
Then after a good rest, a sign (!) and realising that I would be in the area (well nearby, I was climbing Monte Rosa in Aosta two days before the race) I thought that maybe I could enter. After all it would be brilliant to see everyone and with 3074 ElliptiGo miles under my belt I was sure to be able to at least have a good Go!
Five rides out on the ElliptiGo and climbing a 4,500m peak between The Go Trek (which finished July 6th) and the race (Sept 1st) was my training program. Well, less training program, more just what I’d done.
I arrived in Aix Les Bains the night before the race and had a lovely evening catching up with people and meeting other ElliptiGo’ers who were out for the race too. I was nervous, I’ve done plenty of endurance-based activity but racing isn’t something I have a lot of experience in. I needed a plan!
The race, I discovered was a 21km route up, that’s up, a mountain, Mont Revard 1,562m.
I have a Suunto watch with a heart rate monitor and decided that I could use that as a guide, if I worked at 70-80% of my maximum heart rate, hopefully I could sustain that effort and therefore pace for the time it would take to get to the top. I had to keep my heart rate below 170bpm. The question was, would I be working too hard and burn out too soon?
I was worried, I thought I hadn’t done enough specific race training and had pretty much convinced myself I wouldn’t do well before the race had even begun. This was clearly the wrong attitude!
I had a word with myself the morning of the race and decided to sort that out, I told myself I could do well and that I should give it 100%. I muscled my way to front of the pack at the start of the race, the gun went off and so did I! I was in the leading half of the pack. My heart rate shot up straight above 170bpm…
I knew I had to address that quickly; I had to slow my pace, however, I was battling with two guys to hold my place. One got ahead but the other didn’t and I knew that psychologically this was important, I thought if I could stay ahead of this one guy and start to pull away I would get away. It took a while but I managed to lose him… Then I had my sights set on the one who’d overtaken earlier. He was now well in the distance but I was after him!
I got my heart rate to 168bpm and found a rhythm; I calculated how long each kilometer was taking me and worked out that if I maintained my speed I could finish in 2hours. I was half way…
I had two goals; to catch the guy in front and over take him and to finish in less than 2hrs!
My mind visited some interesting places during that second half, I just needed to keep turning my legs and keep Go’ing, pushing hard all the time. With 2km to go I was right on the tail of the guy who’d overtaken me and slowly, slowly I got closer and closer until I got past! Then I went for it and made the finish in 1hr 58mins.
I was the 1st woman to finish and 10th overall. It had been a very tough race and I was happy it was done…
…I was also very excited about my work of art trophy!!
Here’s a short Punkt video I made at the end of the race.
It was a total pleasure riding the BMW F800GS over the Petit St Bernard Pass from France to Italy into the Aosta Valley. La Thuile, the first village you come to is particularly lovely in the summer.
Arriving in Couymayeur soon after marked the end of my journey on the bike and the start of my next journey, that would be something quite different. Climb time!
I met up with my friend and mountain guide Marco and we set off to the other side of the valley. There’s always a certain amount of nerves and excitement before a climb, especially when I pack my paraglider and there’s a chance I might be flying back down.
A huge wall of 4000m peaks, the Monte Rosa Chain, extends from the Breithorn all the way across to the multiple summits of Monte Rosa.
Just a three day trip, the plan was to get up to the first refuge, attempt a few summits on the second day, possibly staying up high and then if the weather was ok fly down on the morning of the third day.
We reached Gressoney and stopped at Staffel – where we took a series of three cable cars up to 3000m at Indren. It was a steady day. Just an hours hike up to 3,500m to the Mantova Refuge, our base for the night.
All my kit plus my paraglider meant my ruck sack was huge!
The next morning we were up just after 5am and left as the sun came up. Sunrise and sunsets on any mountain are always a particularly beautiful time.
Within a few hours we had negotiated a lot of crevasses, been enjoying the stunning views above the clouds and were on the first summit, the Balmenhorn, 4,167m.
From there we headed over to the Zumstein summit 4,563m. The ridge to the summit was very dramatic. You walk along the edge, one side plummeting away to the clouds below – it was dizzying and reminded me of the summit ridges on Everest!
The final summit, just in time for lunch, was the Capanna Regina Margherita Hut, 4,554m. The highest mountain refuge in Europe. A place I’ve wanted to go to for years! It’s a very cool hang out. There’s dorms, good food and even….wifi!!!
We took the decision to head back down to the Mantova Hut after lunch, the weather forecast was not looking great – cloud and high winds. We’d sleep there again and see what our final morning had in store for us.
I was up at 2am, 4am and 5am! Each time the conditions were not suitable for flying… either too much cloud or too windy. We left the hut mid morning and began our hike back down.
For me flying down is a welcome bonus and if it doesn’t happen that’s ok because the climbing and hiking part are wonderful too.
Marco and I were silent as we headed down. The morning light was amazing and the views were spectacular. I was deep in thought about the paragliding and thinking “what if this…. what if that….”and as if Marco could read my mind he broke the silence and said to me…
I like this quote, “A snowflake never falls in the wrong place.”
As part of my latest adventure – to climb Monte Rosa in the Aosta Valley, raising awareness and supporting the charity Coppafeel – I’ve ridden over here on my BMW F800GS.
I packed the bike so that I could sit neatly between my bags – it was in line with arm chair comfort!
The journey to Aosta involved; two days, almost 900 miles, 5 tanks of fuel, 3 countries and a huge number of dead fly’s and bugs!
My route took me down through the UK to the channel tunnel in Folkestone. From there I went to Tignes in France. Taking the tunnel meant a very short crossing so I was able to cover a big distance in one day. I rode over 700miles and felt good at the end of it.
The much shorter second days travel took me over the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard, a mountain pass from France into the Aosta Valley in Italy. It was a joy to ride the bike along the twisting and turning, beautiful mountain roads. I was lucky that both days travel saw sunshine and a little cloud… but no rain.
The comfort I experienced on the 800 was just brilliant and really made a huge difference. The riding position is perfect so there’s no back, arm or neck ache. The size of the bike means that you sit snuggly on the seat and experience very little wind against your body. One of the most noticeable comforts I enjoyed was as a result of the hand guards – no wind on my hands meant warm hands.
The bike sat happily at 80mph enabling me to cover a good distance in a short time. It also had enough power to carry my much needed 30kgs of luggage as if it wasn’t even on there.
I broke up the travel days with a couple of days in Tignes, where I was able to fit in some good acclimatisation time – a cycle ride up the Col de l’lseran and a hike up to 3,500m on the Grand Motte. I was really happy to be up high. The Monte Rosa is 4,634m so I’ll really feel the benefit when I climb!
The weather forecast has changed several times in the past 72hours which is so often the case when you are in the mountains.
One of the things I absolutely love to do is combine my passions into one big adventure.
So I’m about to do just that!
Over the next few days I’ll be making my way to the Aosta Valley in Italy on my BMW F800GS, staying with friends on the way and then climbing Monte Rosa when I arrive.
For a few years I’ve wanted to climb Monte Rosa, the “Pink Mountain”. Sitting on the boarder of Italy and Switzerland, at 4,634m it’s the highest mountain in Switzerland and the second-highest in both the Alps and western Europe.
It’s also home to the highest construction in Europe – The Regina Margherita Hut – located at 4,559 metres, not only is the hut a refuge for climbers but it serves as an observatory and research centre as well. The plan is to spend a night there before our summit push.
I’m going to take my paraglider with me and will aim to do some flying while I’m in the area too.
After the climb, I’ll make my way to Aix Les Bains, because it has worked out that just a day after I’ll be down from the mountain I will be able to attend the first ElliptiGo European Championships! I’ll probably be quite tired… but I’m excited to be involved in the event and to see my fellow ElliptiGo’ers!
This trip has been finalised in the last week; I’ve only just booked my Chanel crossing (with hours to go) and I’m not completely sure of the route I’ll take to Aosta. Sometimes though you just have to seize opportunities and Go for it!
It’ll be a two week adventure combining some of my favourite things; people, motorbikes, climbing, flying and ElliptiGo’ing!
As always I like to get behind a good cause when I take on a new challenge so I’ve set up a just giving page in support of Coppafeel, a breast cancer awareness charity.
I’m aiming to raise £185.50 as Monte Rosa was first climbed in 1855.
If you’d like to support this next effort here’s a link to the page
I began the final week after a two day break with my sister and friends, which was wonderful, physically and mentally. I refuelled, recharged and felt good and mostly I was thinking, “I can’t believe in just a few days I’ll be in Paris at the end of The Go Trek!”.
Monday was an easy day (or so I thought) I had just 20miles to ride to reach Craponne – haha it’s funny every time I say or write it!
It was very hot though and as I got Go’ing my legs soon felt empty and I became quite worried. I still had over 300miles to go – I couldn’t get tired now.
There was a group of riders and a police escort waiting for me as I entered the town, it was lovely to see and be with more people – and a police escort is always fun! Together we rode a few km’s into the centre where the Mayor was waiting with a crowd of locals. He was such a nice guy, he did a very warm and amusing speech but also had taken time to read up about breast cancer and spoke about the work of Coppafeel. There was a collection and over £80 was raised for the charity, thank you to all who donated.
That evening Leo, a fellow ElliptiGo’er who had joined the group ride, and his wife Gisele asked me to join them for dinner. They also invited other friends and we had a lovely evening outside in their garden eating delicious food, which I was very grateful for, knowing I needed to fuel up for the next days push. It’s evenings like this that I have treasured during the trip – meeting new people who are so generous and kind, sharing stories and enjoying their company.
I set off early the next day, it was already 25’c and I was nervous that having felt so tired doing just 20miles the day before I would really struggle. I left Craponne grabbing this shot and smiled to myself – a great time was had by all in Craponne!!
To my surprise and sheer delight the lovely meal Leo and Gisele had made me the night before had done the trick, I felt like I had rocket fuel in my legs and was making the fastest pace I had made during the entire trek.
By 6pm that evening I had covered 91miles and stopped at a supermarket to grab a pint of fresh milk before it closed. As the staff locked the doors behind me I was working out that I could have another 100mile day done within the hour. The milk tasted so good! I felt great and I set of down a hill and I was actually beaming as the wind rushed past my face and everything felt so good….
….Moments later there was a bang and I rapidly came to a halt! My back tyre had burst. To be fair to the tyre it had done almost 3000miles with a heavy trailer being towed behind it. I stood still and looked around. The last town was 20km away, the supermarket was closed and there was nothing around. I pushed Deloris and Hank (the trailer!) back towards the supermarket and across the road about 150m away there was a shed type building surrounded by old cars. The shed had a sign above it.
“SOS Mechanic Garage”.
The sign said SOS. I headed over there.
There was a guy working underneath a car bonnet. He didn’t speak English, so in my best French I tired to explain what had happened and that I needed help to locate a new tyre and fix the problem. The guy looked at me and said “Nope” before walking off shaking his head. I just stood there… before long he returned with another French guy, Frederic, who also shook his head. Frederic took his phone out and began speaking French, very fast French, but I worked out he was talking to a bike shop. Soon in the SOS van we were speeding back towards the last town I had past and we went to three bike shops – who Frederic had called ahead to stay open (it was now 7pm) and finally we found a tyre. It was slightly big but with no other options Frederic nodded and said he’d try and make it fit!
Back at the garage it was just minutes and Deloris had a new tyre on, a tightened chain and adjusted brakes. Just two hours after the blow out I was back in business! I couldn’t quite believe my luck.
Fred asked where I would stay. I said I’d look for somewhere to camp and he kindly said I could stay in the field by the garage. Literally as he said it the heavens opened and thunder cracked. Frederic then said, “you can sleep in the garage, there is a shower, a kitchen and a sofa you can sleep on”.
Turns out Frederic’s son lived in the flat attached. He was lovely and didn’t mind having an unexpected guest for the night.
I didn’t manage the 100miles but I’d had a remarkable day and I went to sleep with a smile on my face.
Frederic arrived in the morning at 7am with five pain au chocolates for me for breakfast!
Who’d have thought a tyre blowing out could result in so many good things? In a way I’m glad it happened! Thank goodness for Frederic – thank you for rescuing me!!
Two days and roughly 200miles until Paris were left. There’s something about having the finish in sight that gives you an extra spark and although it rained in my face for most of the day I had fun – click here to see Punkt video I made mid morning!
And I also did 103 miles! It was 8pm and I was tired when I hit the 100 mile mark. A good friend back in the UK had transferred some money to my bank account when he heard I would be alone for the final part of the trek with a message that said, treat yourself to a hotel one night. This was the night! (Thank you AL!) There was a Formula One hotel in sight and with a 31 euro price tag I was very happy to be there.
I was up early, today was the day I would hit the 3000mile mark! I had 66miles to go and just South of Paris I would reach the magic number. I felt really good. I was quite emotional too. There had been times during the trek that I had doubted if I’d be able to do that mileage. For me, the goal had always been 3000miles for £3000 for Coppafeel. That had been my motivation and reason to keep GO’ing when things had got tough.
Here’s the moment I reached the distance – it was not on a special road or in a special place and I was on my own…. but the sun was shining and it was wonderful!
As I came into Paris I saw the Eiffel tower in the distance – 68days ago it had seemed forever away and I was finally approaching!
The last leg of The Go Trek was a ride from Versailles in to Paris, with a group of people including french journalists, photographers and video crew.
I was happy to see everyone, I didn’t know most of them, but soon I would.
As we arranged the ElliptiGo’s for photographs in front of the spectacular palace in Versailles I started seeing things.. I saw some Go’s riding towards me with some familiar faces on them.. but it could’t be?!?!?! IT WAS!!!
Back at the start of the trek we had been joined by several riders from the Milton Keynes ElliptiGo club for the London leg and now before my very eyes I was seeing them again. Jules, Gerrad, Antony and Pauly were coming towards me! Words really won’t do justice for how this moment felt. It was so special that they came and would be the most fitting and perfect end to this incredible journey. I was beyond delighted to be able to share the final miles of the Go Trek with them. They had driven over to Paris the day before to be with me at the end and it meant so much. Thank you all… What you did was amazing and I loved it! It really did make all the difference.
The final few miles were just brilliant. Together with a group of over 12 other ElliptiGo’ers we tore up the streets of Paris! We rode around the arch de triumph (twice), down the Champs Elysees and finally reached the Eiffel Tower, where Chris Price and his family were waiting to say hello too! We’d met Chris at Cyclopark in the UK. His daughters had a gift for me – some knickers with Mickey Mouse on them! Wonderful!
We enjoyed a picnic by the Eiffel Tower to celebrate – it was perfect.
D’Andrea was there in Paris for the final few days. D is the International Sales Directer at ElliptiGo, she has worked tirelessly in the background before and during the trek with planning, preparation and support. So often during a project there are people in a team who’s work and input is completely vital and key to things working yet they are the unsung heroes. So to all of you behind the scenes – D’Andrea, everyone at ElliptiGo, Chris Diplock, our parents, friends, new friends, kit sponsors, supporters, donators and all those who played a part in The Go Trek, thank you… from the bottom of my heart… thank you.
A new world record – 3074miles completed and now over £3000 for Coppafeel raised!!
The story of how The Go Trek happened is simple, short and lovely!
Dave Cornthwaite saw an ElliptiGo in America, he came up with a plan to do a journey of over 1000miles on one, D’Andrea and the ElliptiGo team said Yes to supporting the project, I said Yes to joining in… 3000 miles were covered, a new world record was set and over £3000 has been raised for Coppafeel. Together WE did it!