Welcome to my blog for the ChallengeMD! Cambodia 2007 Ride

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1 November 2007 [return home]
We returned from the floating village and went for a final meal at the Khmer Kitchen. A very pink bus took us to the airport where we said our goodbyes to Adam, Adam and Rithi. Said goodbye to Bec who headed home to Japan, Jas to headed for Vietnam and the rest of us flew to Singapore. My flight was the last to go from there so I was there to see off the Melbourne guys and then the Sydney guys. My flight home was great as I had 3 seats to myself. promptly created a comfy bed and slept a lot of the way.

For all of those people who have been logging on [an average of 250 hits per day since the ride began], I have created a "Riders Gallery". Click the link to go there. If you have any pictures you want to upload here, email them to me at challengemdriderAThotmail.com [replace the AT with @]. My brother tells me that my pages will be kept up for a long time! Use the link to the left to return to the gallery after viewing the bigger picture.

31st October 2007 [day 12]
We visited the floating village during our last half day in Cambodia. The floating village is quite extraordinary. Sandra, Jade , Bill and I took a tuktuk out there and arranged a boat ride through the floating village. It is a mixture of boats and houses built on bamboo barges. The village moves as the water expands and recedes with the wet and dry seasons in Cambodia. A mixture of Vietnamese, Indonesian/Malay and Khmer people live in the floating village. Fishing is the main source of income although the tourist dollar is also very significant. The village has its own school, hospital, market, crocodile farm etc there is even a floating catholic church. which was odd as i hadn't seen a catholic church anywhere else in our travels.

I fly to Singapore tonight then home to Perth in the early hours of Thursday. I can't wait to see my family and tell them about my Cambodian adventure.

A huge thanks to all my sponsors!!!!!

This has been a life changing experience and collectively the group has raised over $400000!! I hope I can get some people from WA to sign up the the next challengemd in China in 2008!! I'll help you fundraise!! I know all about that now. Liaa haawi - Lee.

30th October 2007 [day 11]
This is a brief blog entry, I will expand it later.
 
We completed the challenge MD with a 110km ride to waterfall [Phnom Kulen] and back to Siem Reap. Really tough ride as half was on unsealed road and about 12km was really hilly. I suck at hills so I really struggled. I had to get off and walk a few  times. Still I got there in the end. Adam, our tour leader spent a fair bit of time with me keeping me going which was great. He is a top guy.

The gods were looking after us as we had the coolest day of the whole trip. If it were hot I would probably have ended up on the bus. We arrived to a big banner at the hotel. There were several family and friends of riders there which made it even more special. We were soaked through as we had constant rain for the last 50kms. A mix of joy, relief and sadness to be finished.

Such an awesome group of people. I have definitely made some lifelong friends and I am already looking forward to the reunion next year.

29th October 2007 [day 10]
We set of on our bikes for the temples. They are stunningly beautiful. Rithi our guide went through some of the history of the Angkor era with us which was great.
 
I will try to send a pick of me and Rithi. He is an awesome guy. He guided us through s21 too and told us his family mum, dad and sister were all killed in the killing fields. I have since spoken to him a bit more and he told me a bit of his story. Rithi said he was 4 when the Khmer Rouge came and put his family on a cart to go to the killing fields. His baby sister was only 1 and a half. He was also put on the cart but his grandfather who was 67 was able to take him from the cart. He said his grandfather took him about 90km to a friend in another province. His family were all killed at the killing fields. His grandfather came back and raised him. He said his grandfather died in 2003 aged 98. Rithi said he is still very hurt by what happened as are all Khmer people. he said even though it was over 30 years ago it seems like it only just happened. I think Rithi is pretty amazing and he knows everything about Khmer history, a really interesting person.
 
Our lead rider is Lucky [Somnang]. He is the current Cambodian road bike champion and an incredibly fit guy. He rode with me up the last hill before we entered Sihanoukville. He probably didn't think I was going to make it....but i did!! I think I sent a pic of me with lucky. He is the Khmer guy in the bike riding gear.
 
Tomorrow we ride another 100km to Phnom Kulen and Banteay Srei and return to finish our challenge in Siem Reap. Hope i make it!!! apparently we have a serious 12km hill on dirt road to climb!

28th October 2007 [day 9]
 
We left for Siem Reap and stopped about 2 hours later at a village [Skuon] where I ate deep fried spider!!!!! It was actually really tasty, marinated in a rich flavour and very crispy. I must admit that I only ate the legs...biting into the big round body was a bit too much for me. Apparently that part was really crispy too and just as good.
 
We finally got into Siem Reap mid afternoon and just had time to drop our bags and head for the hill overlooking Angkor Wat for sunset. It was quite beautiful but really crowded which kinda spoilt it a bit. Tomorrow we leave on our bikes to tour the Angkor temples including Angkor Wat. I can't wait. Not many kms on the bike, probably only about 30-35 at a leisurely pace.

27th October 2007 [day 8]
We had a free morning in Sihanoukville so we went down to the beach and relaxed on a deck chair under an umbrella. It was great. Had an icecream filled crepe for lunch which was delicious and then we headed off back to Phnom Penh by bus. it was a 6 hour trip but I didn't sleep for a second. The scenery was amazing. Beautiful rice fields, small villages and some larger ones too. People waving all the way. We arrived in Phnom Penh and headed out for dinner which was pizza and cocktails at the Foreign Correspondents Club - yummy. Had an early night as we head for Siem Reap by bus early tomorrow morning.

26th October 2007 [day 7]
Before we left Kampot we all put in some money to buy rice to give to a local orphanage. We had enough money, about $230US to buy 600 kilos of rice!!!

I managed to peddle all of the 108km to Sihanoukville!!!! It was bloody tough.....nearly killed me but I did it! Only one person had to go on the bus so it was a real team effort and incredibly satisfying. We left Kampot at 7am. The weather was very humid but not too hot and there was no rain which was great. The scenery was amazing and once again all along the way we had people yelling hello - goodbye and that helped keep me going. We stopped at some villages along the way and I got some great shots of people especially the kids.

We arrived into Sihanoukville around 3.30pm. We are staying at the Orchidee guesthouse on Occhuteal beach which has a pool!!! We all dumped our stuff in the rooms and jumped in the pool to cool down. It was a great way to finish the ride. Later we met for dinner at a seaside cafe and the food was great!!! A few of us ( the older riders!) had an early night. I was in bed by 8pm but some of the others stayed on at the cafe for drinks. My body just wasn't up for that!

We have a free morning tomorrow in Sihanoukville and then we grab a bus back to Phnom Penh and the following day we head for Siem Reap.

25th October 2007 [day 6]
Today we left at 6am for breakfast by the river in Kampot then headed for Kep Sur Mer. It was once a place where the French would holiday by the beach when they occupied Cambodia. It is very pretty but we were told people get sick if they swim in the sea there so we could only admire the view. It was only a short ride there and back but I struggled on the way back and was travelling at Cambodian pace by the time I got into Kampot. The Cambodian people have these run down old house bikes that they ride at about walking speed. Some of the kids though were trying to keep up with us. When I had slowed down on the return trip I was able to chat to the locals as we rode along together. Their english is pretty good and they are very interested in where we are from where we are going and details about our families.

Two people had to get on the bus today due to gastro. I'm still ok but my stomach doesn't feel quite right so I may be next! We had lunch in a restaurant over the river in Kampot it was very good. Going to relax until we head on a boat down river and I may not go if my stomach is still funny. We leave tomorrow morning at 6am for Sihanoukville where I will post photos from today. This will be the toughest challenge so far. 108kms with the last 20kms hills before we reach the port city. I hope I can do it!! I will do my best.

24th October 2007 [day 5]
We set off at 6am on day 2. We had to cover 90kms to reach kampot so we wanted to get most of it done before the real heat of the day. I was surprised at how good I felt as we headed off. slightly sore shoulders and bum but my legs are good. Hopefully I will continue to feel ok. It was pretty tough once again as the day heated up. The kids here are great, all along the road they come out to say hello and high five us as we ride past. I wish I could stop more for pics but I am worried that I'll be too slow and they will make me get on the bus. So far only one person has had to spend time on the bus to rest. My goal is to ride the whole thing but the heat and humidity is pretty tough.

A huge crowd of villagers formed around us during one of our breaks today. It was great. Everyone was smiling and friendly. I made the whole 90 kms to Kampot. Going to stretch again tonight and hopefully I am up ok for tomorrow. It is a shorter ride of 60kms which is great. No pictures today as the internet connection is too slow.

23rd October 2007 [day 4]
We left Phnom Penh the day before yesterday. We went to the Australian Embassy for send off by the Australian Ambassador. A lot of media were there including the BBC. The Ambassador gave a speech and then we set off with all the cameras clicking. The press made us ride around a big roundabout with a huge monument under construction in the middle. We had to do a couple of circuits so they could get lots of film. We heard today that we were a big news story on the tv stations here!!
 
Finally we set off for Takeo. About 85 kms of riding on both sealed and dirt roads. It was awesome, hot humid muddy. The people were fascinated by this group of foreigners riding through their neighbourhoods. We had pretty regular stops every 20 km. I found the last leg the hardest. I was totally spent when we got to Takeo. Was advised to do lots of stretching to reduce soreness for day 2. A massive rainstorm came over at night with lots of thunder.

22nd October 2007 [day 3]
Things are still going well but haven't started the hard slog yet so I may feel different this time tomorrow. I did buy some silk scarves, shawls and cushion covers at the Russian market but don't know how much of a bargain. I got. I got better at bartering as I went and I realised that the shop keepers find the bartering thing great fun. As long as you keep smiling it really is fun. I was happy with what I paid for each thing even if I may have paid higher than someone else. The markets were overwhelming and so hot and humid. Every now and then I had to make my way to the outside before venturing back in.

Last night the dinner at the Australian Ambassador's house was very flash. They had erected a marquee and we had a wonderful bbq. This morning we went to the Royal Palace which was beautiful. Later we visited Tuol Sleng - S21 which was very sobering. I found myself in tears walking through the rooms of photographs. Our guide Rithi was amazing. He was four when his whole family were killed during the Pol Pot regime.

We then went off to lunch at another great place. Now I have an hour or so before we meet and finally get our bikes to customise. I will send a before and after shot of my bike. It is going to be my best friend for the next 8 days!!

21st October 2007 [day 2]
We all arrived safe in Phnom Penh and were picked up by our guides Adam, Adam and Rithi. We were bused to New York hotel which is clean and nice. Had time for a quick shower then bused to the Khmer Surin restaurant for lunch. The food was great! We were then taken to the Russian market [Psar Tuol Toom Poong] and did a little bit of shopping. Caught a tuk tuk back to hotel to finish unpacking. Tonight we have a BBQ with the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia. Tomorrow we customise our bikes and then do a quick tour around Phnom Penh and out to the killing fields. Weather is a bit humid but not too bad. The city is amazing. So much going on and so very different to Perth, it is a real culture shock!!

17th October 2007 [day 1 20/10]
Only 4 sleeps to go!! My total has just ticked over $16000. Thanks to everyone who has given such generous support to me and the MDA by sponsoring my ride. I will be joining my fellow riders at Singapore Airport and we will fly into Phnom Penh together. Apparently the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia will host a BBQ at her residence in PP for us all! The Ambassador has also agreed to launch the start of the ride on Tuesday morning from the Embassy. This will be preceded by a media event. It will all be pretty exciting!!

2nd October 2007
The CEO of Genetic Technologies, Dr. Mervyn Jacobson, phoned me last Friday and said the company board had approved a sponsorship donation of $5000 for my participation in ChallengeMD Cambodia. I am thrilled to get the $5000 donation for MDA and it will take my fundraising total to almost $15000! Departure for Cambodia is less than 3 weeks away!!

11th September 2007
I have my flight details for the trip. I leave on the 21st October and fly to Cambodia via Singapore. My visa to enter the Kingdom of Cambodia arrived today also. It is getting very exciting! My training is still going well. Riding for at least an hour every day. Hoping to get a couple of long rides in over the weekend.

7th September 2007
I held a Thai cuisine fundraising dinner at the Amarin Thai Restaurant. Thirty guests came along  and we enjoyed a great Thai banquet. Check out the photos! We all had a great night and raised $570 for MDA! This amount took my total over the $9,000 mark yay!! Hope I can crack $10,000 soon!

6th August 2007
My fundraising total ticked over $8000. Yay!

5th August 2007
Met up with Scalzo and UWA boatshed. We rode around the bridges then down along the Nedlands foreshore to Tawarri. Great fun although the wind was a bit stiff when we were heading west along the South Perth forshore. Took a couple of photos along the way. Spent an hour on the windtrainer in the evening.

4th August 2007
Great weather this weekend so was able to get outside to do some training. Did a 32 km ride to Deepwater point and back.

23rd July 2007
Went along to the Hillary's Rotary club meeting as the invited speaker. Had never been to a Rotary club meeting before and I had a great time. You couldn't meet a more welcoming, friendly group of people. Jeff Trudgen invited me to talk about ChallengeMD, Sue had told him about it, and he introduced me to everyone and made sure I was sorted with a drink. We had a great meal at the Hillary's Yacht club and I gave a 20 minute talk about muscular dystrophy, the MDA and ChallengeMD. I got some great questions from the audience. The club gave me a cheque for $250 for MDA which was wonderful and have invited me back when I return from Cambodia to tell them how the journey went. It was a great night and it motivated me to get on the bike and ride for an hour when I got home. I've been struggling a bit lately. It has been too cold for me to get outside on the bike and I'm a bit over riding in the loungeroom.

21st July 2007
Just wanted to thank everyone out there who has bought and sold my fundraising chocolates. I have now raised over $1000 dollars from chocolate sales!
My chocolates have even made it as far north as Newman. Vanessas boyfriend Jason sent 2 boxes up to a mine site there for me and they sold in 2 days! I started out thinking I might sell 12 boxes and I've almost sold 4 dozen. That's a lot of chocolate.

6th July 2007
I have finally scanned the article that appeared in the Western Suburbs Weekly community newspaper (page 32) as a result of my interviews and photos last month. Click on the thumbnail below to read the article.

2nd July 2007
I appeared on the Wake Up WA! Channel 31 morning show to discuss the ride. I will add more soon about this.

 

24th June 2007
Gihan from First Step Communications is now my biggest corporate sponsor. He has donated $640 so far. He is donating some of the profits from his book sales to MDA. Thanks Gihan!

22nd June 2007
Photographer Will came to PMH today to get a couple of shots of me and my bike for the Fremantle Gazette article. I look like a complete dag but hopefully the article will generate some interest in Challenge MD and maybe a few more donations to MDA.

21st June 2007
Gihan emailed one of the hosts of Wake Up WA, a local breakfast TV show telecast on Channel 31 in Perth, about my participation in ChallengeMD. He contacted me and invited me into the station for an interview. The show goes live to air and I will be interviewed for 7-8 minutes about Challenge MD Cambodia. The audience is about 27,000 viewers so hopefully  it may result in some more donations to MDA. Hope I don't get stage fright!

I was also interviewed over the phone by a journalist from the Fremantle Gazette. A photographer from the Gazette is coming out tomorrow to take some photo's for the article. I'll post a copy of the article if it is published!

Yay! my darling brother just sponsored me another $400 so my total has ticked over the $6000 mark. Yay!

18th June 2007
Training continues to progress well. Kelsy's husband Dean has written a program for me to follow when I am training on the wind trainer. It is really good and has provided a  bit of variety. He's also given me some stretching exercises which definitely help reduce muscle soreness.

17th June 2007
Did a ride along the river to Blackwall reach today. It is a really scenic route. There are a pair of nesting Sea Eagles at Blackwall Reach so I tried to get a couple of photo's of the Eagles. I think I will ride there regularly and see how they are going. The nest is very large but well hidden amongst the foliage. One of the pair remained on the nest the whole time I was there so I assume there is an egg or chick.

3rd June 2007
Met up with Scalzo for a ride at Kings Park. It was the first decent hill training I have done and I found it pretty tough going. Scalzo left me for dead and powered up the hills and waited patiently for me at the top. I was really puffing to get up the hills but at least I kept going and didn't have to get off my bike and walk. It was great fun. I reached a top speed of 44.7km/hr going down the hills! I could have gone faster but chickened out and applied the brakes. I definitely need to do more hill training! Thought I might be sore in the legs but have had no stiffness at all. The nightly sessions on the windtrainer are paying off! Will definitely train at Kings Park again.

2nd June 2007
I had a 3 day weekend and managed to do some good outdoor training on 2 of those days. Went riding around the bridges (Narrows and Causeway) with Jill on Saturday 2nd June. It was a perfect day for riding. We had a great time.

29th May 2007
I had no idea what a Camelbak was until today when David gave me one. I visited Kathleen and David in their cool new home. David is in the Army and trains using a Camelbak. It is a backpack that can hold 2 litres of water and has a drinking tube that goes over your shoulder for easy drinking. No need to be reaching for water bottles whilst riding! It should be really useful for long distance training and for the actual ride in Cambodia. Thanks David!

24th May 2007
Reached a milestone in my fundraising today. The total ticked over the $5000 mark! Over a quarter of the way to my fundraising goal! Huge thanks to everyone who has supported MDA by sponsoring my ride! I have raised over $540 in chocolate sales alone! I have ordered another dozen boxes of chocolates because they are selling so well.

Training continues to go well. Train on the windtrainer for 1 hour every night. I can handle the 1 hour physically no problem but it can get incredibly boring even with the tv going. Got to keep it up though. Need to get the Kms in my legs if I am going to make the distance in Cambodia.

17th May 2007
I know I have been lazy with my blog updates but I have not been slacking off on my bike training. Training is still going well. I am riding every night after work mostly on the windtrainer but I have done a few rides around Yangebup lake and into Fremantle. I am really noticing the improvement in my level of fitness. I used to struggle after 30 minutes on the windtrainer and now 60 minutes is a breeze. My fundraising total is over $4500 now so I'm hoping to reach the $5000 mark before the end of May!

27th April 2007
My sponsorship total is now over $3800! The chocolate sales are going really well so I have ordered another dozen boxes of the $1.00 chocolates. Once I sell those I will have raised another $576.00 for MDA! Planning to ride from Port Beach to Trigg Beach this Sunday.

25th April 2007
Drove the bike to Coogee Beach and rode into Freo for early brekky with Nicola. The 25 min ride was a breeze.

24th April 2007
Another Corporate Sponsor, Diagnostic Technology have generously donated $540 dollars to my fundraising efforts.

22nd April 2007
Set off to ride from Yangebup to Bentley to visit my parents. It was quite an adventure. Planned the route using my bike path map and set off around 10am. Managed to take a wrong turn a couple of times but made to Bentley by 11.30am. My front tyre went flat about a 10 min walk from Mum & Dads so was able to walk the bike there and investigate what had gone wrong. It was a tiny piece of glass that had punctured the tyre and tube. Of course, being a novice, I had no spare tyre or repair kit. Had lunch, Dad cooked a delicious Chinese steak and fried rice. There we watched the first 3 quarters of the Freo vs Melbourne game.

Once I was confident that the Dockers were going to post their 1st win of the season, Dad and I took my front wheel to the bike shop for repair. Bought myself tyre lever, puncture repair kit and my 1st pair of proper bike shorts while waiting for new tube to be fitted. Headed back to Bentley and put the tyre back on. I must admit that I really wasn't too keen on the return journey but once I got going it wasn't too bad. Got a bit lost on the return trip as well. Took another 90 mins to ride back and I was pretty tired. Settled onto the couch for 3 hours and had Josh bring me cups of tea. I thought I might pull up sore a day or two later but was actually pretty good. The nightly sessions on the windtrainer must be helping.

15th April 2007
I decided to try and ride the bike from Coogee to Fremantle today. My biggest challenge so far. To add to the challenge the weather was crap. Rain and wind. I almost piked out but decided that I may have to face wind and rain in Cambodia so I should just get on with it. My destination in Freo was the old Fremantle prison. Some friends who have a vintage Austin 7 were taking part in the Austin 7 club rally and one of the stop off was the prison.

I consulted my bike maps to work out the safest route and off I went. I gave myself 2 hours to get there and I made in 45minutes!!! I was really amazed and proud of myself. Because I was so early I decided to be braver and rode into downtown Freo to the bike shop. I bought a drink bottle holder, tyre pump and bike lock before heading back to the prison. The convoy of Austin's arrived and I had a catch up with Sue and Mal before heading back home.

Me and the Austin 7Sue and her Austin 7

I stopped off at South Beach cafe for lunch while it poured rain then rode back to Coogee beach. I was soaked but otherwise fine. However when I got home I decided I needed a nana nap was required. I certainly have a long way to go with my fitness but I was pleased with how I handled the ride overall. I will continue to use the wind trainer during the week and hopefully next weekend will plan a slightly longer journey to Bentley.

14th April 2007
Went to a MD conference held by MDAWA. The conference was attended by a broad audience including people with neuromuscular disorders their family, friends and health care workers as well as scientists and students working on MD research. The speakers were really good. The morning sessions focused on research into new therapies for neuromuscular disease. The afternoon speakers were people who have a neuromuscular disease. All of the speakers were fantastic, incredibly positive people who really don't let their disorder stop them from living very fulfilled lives. Their talks were full of honesty and great humour and were very motivating for me. One of the speakers, Pat Moeschen, is a high school music teacher in the US and he said he would sponsor my ride and also get his students to do some fundraising to sponsor me. How cool is that!

Pat gave a great talk and also showed a short film of a day in his life living with Becker MD. It was great! His music students even played Advance Australia Fair. You could see that his students have enormous respect and affection for Pat.

10th April 2007
I got my first corporate sponsorship today! Roche are sponsoring me a $1 for every km so that is $512.00! Yay!

7th April 2007
Picked up the ladies gel saddle at the bike shop. They put the new saddle on for me at the shop. What an improvement! Much more comfortable. Also bought some maps of the bike paths around Perth.
Still riding each night in the lounge room and have noticed that it is getting easier for me to ride for 50 minutes.

6th April 2007
Drove to Woodman's point. Met a friend Jill, who also bought her bike, and we rode to Coogee then back past Woodman's point to Henderson beach where we had a swim and rode back. Yay!

29th March 2007
The chocolates were delivered today and sales are going really well. I have 10 boxes located in various work places around Perth.

I am going to try and get some corporate sponsorship for my ride. I got some advice from Belinda (a friend of Kathleen's) who has lots of fundraising experience. Belinda had some really good practical suggestions for obtaining sponsorship from companies. I'm still working on a letter to send to businesses asking for sponsorship so I'll keep you posted as to how that goes.

My dear Mum and Dad are my biggest sponsors so far. They are also selling chocolates for me and have got a couple of cash donations from neighbours at Bentley Park the retirement village where they live. Dad approached the administration at Bentley park and they are going to put up some posters about ChallengeMD (link is to 268kb hi-res version of the poster) around the village. I might get a few more donations!

Every cent counts

 

20th March 2007
Having never done any real fundraising before I found the idea quite daunting. So it has taken a while to get the ball rolling. Of course I asked my loved ones for sponsorship first and they have all been incredibly generous. My brother has not only donated some serious cash but he is also donating a lot of his time creating this blog!

I have sought advice from family and friends about fund raising and they have come up with some great ideas.

My friend Kathleen came up with the idea for my first small sponsorship appeal. Her neighbour and friend Ron Nyisztor is an artist. Ron held a gathering at his studio on the 19th March featuring his art and a visiting magician from Germany - Danny Ocean. Ron was kind enough to let me put up some posters about the fundraising ride and also a couple of collection tins for donations. Ron even decorated an old bike with glowing red lights as part of the display. It looked great! It was a great night and I even got a few donations from people. A few people wanted to know what ChallengeMD was all about and were very encouraging. I felt  quite shy about approaching people for donations. I didn't want to be pushy. I think I need to work on being more confident in talking to people about the ride.

Heather at work suggested I sell chocolates at work and several friends offered to sell boxes of chocolates for me. I contacted Cadburies and ordered 12 boxes of 48 chocolates to sell at $1 each. I make 50cents from each chocolate sold.


HOW I BECAME INVOLVED

It all started with an email from Boris Struk who is executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Melbourne. I met Boris at the Congress of Neuromuscular disease in Vancouver in 2002. Back then I was doing research at the UWA on Duchenne MD using the mdx mouse model of the disease. Boris is an amazing person who is totally committed to improving the lives of people who have muscular dystrophy. We had both recently visited Cambodia and we spent quite some time talking about what an amazing country it was. After the conference we kept in touch with an occasional email. I left the MD research area to take up a position as senior medical scientist in charge of virology and Molecular diagnostics at Princess Margaret Hospital for children in Perth. 

Out of the blue Boris sent me an email late last year telling me about ChallengeMD. He thought I might be interested in participating because of my involvement in MD research and also because he knew I had loved Cambodia during my brief stay there. My initial reaction was "no way! I haven't ridden a bike in years! since I was a kid!". This was quickly followed with"but wouldn't it be an incredible thing to do". What a way to really see such a beautiful country and experience the culture of the Cambodian people and at the same time raise funds for MD support services and research. I was too scared to commit to the challenge for months. Scared I was too unfit to finish the ride and scared that I would not be able to fund raise. I have never really done either of those things in my life. I spoke to Boris again and he told me more about the Challenge in 2006 in Vietnam. I decided to take up the Challenge!

Once I had committed to doing the ChallengeMD ride across Cambodia I knew I had to get myself a bike ASAP. I had not ridden a bike in years so it was important for me to get on one and start to build my confidence. I spent a couple of weekends going to bike shops and finding out about bikes. The first time I took a test ride at a bike shop I was really worried I would embarrass myself and fall off. I was a bit wobbly but once I got rolling I was fine. I decided to buy an Avanti Blade. It is a hybrid bike. I find it very light and easy to ride. I also bought a helmet and a wind trainer which is set up in the lounge room permanently. I bought the bike on the 17th of March and I have ridden it every day since.

To start with I only rode on the wind trainer. The first time I rode it I rode for 20 minutes. I increased the time by 5 minutes each night until I was able to ride for 50 minutes. I definitely found the saddle uncomfortable so I ordered a gel saddle. After a week I went for my first ride outside, it was a Saturday. I rode around Yangebup lake near my house. I was amazed how fast and how far I could go. It was exhilarating! The next day I put the bike in the back of my little Honda Jazz and drove to Coogee beach. I rode to Henderson and back in no time! I could have ridden further but it was getting dark.

During the week I ride each night in the lounge room. It is too dark to go outside by the time I get home from work. One of my goals is to build up to be able to ride to work at least 2 times a week. I'm not sure of the distance but it would be over 20km each way. I will definitely buy an odometer thingy for the bike so I know what distances I am riding.

The Challenge!

To ride on behalf of the one in 1,000 men, women and children in our population affected by the devastating disorder - Muscular Dystrophy.

To raise funds and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy through ChallengeMD! 2007.

To challenge my own mental and physical stamina by traversing Cambodia on a bike.

To Make a Difference!

Rider Profile

My name is Leanne Sammels and I work at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children as a Medical Scientist.

I will be the first Western Australian rider to participate in this fundraising ride across Cambodia in October 2007.

My goal is to raise at least $20,000  for support/respite services to people living with MD and for research at the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre to help find a cure for MD.

How You Can Help!

Visit ChallengeMD.org to learn more about MDA and the MDChallenge 2007.

Find my “Rider Profile” on the website where you can read a bit more about why I have decided to take up the Challenge.

Donate to MDA by sponsoring my ride!

The riders who participated in ChallengeMD Vietnam in 2006 raised $420,000!

I hope that you will consider helping to make ChallengeMD Cambodia in 2007 an even bigger success. No matter what you are able to give, it will be gratefully received by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the community they support.

Posted 15 Mar 2007 12:36

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