Posted on June 16, 2017

GROUP director Athole McDonald has hailed a “Fantastic Four” who completed a daunting Spanish cycle challenge.

Athole was diagnosed with Myeloma more than a year ago and recently underwent stem cell treatment at Perth Royal Infirmary, writes Gordon Bannerman.

But accompanied by Mike Pearce, he took on a supporting role as friends George Stubbs, founder of the Fair City’s GS Group, Neil and Janet Cockings and Lesley Pearce pedalled 500km from Madrid to Murcia in the Myeloma Awareness Cycle.

And their efforts have already doubled the initial £5000 fundraising target, with donations still flooding in.

Athole admitted: “I’m still struggling to put into context the huge efforts made by friends to raise money for Myeloma UK research.

“As is so often the case, the adventure was concocted over a few too many beers and there were a few flowers who wilted along the way. But not the Fantastic Four.”

Navigational errors by the support crew, and missed water stops, meant an 11-hour day in the saddle after leaving the Spanish capital.

“Day two was even tougher for team and they didn’t get to the hotel until 7pm. I think the distance covered was about 164k but I can't be sure as I was already in the hotel trying to get the football on the telly!” laughed Athole.

“On day three the temperatures ratcheted up beyond 40 degrees when Deb Smith joined the team. We were also joined by the Murcia Cycling team, a motley crew of cycling nutjobs, and Mike donned the lycra to become a racer for the day.

“The stiffest challenge was Garrichel. It’s a brutal climb to test the best of us but after 500km in the saddle I can honestly say I was in awe as everyone traversed the hill with determination to reach the summit, and in one piece.

“They well deserved the emotional welcome that awaited at the El Valle Golf Resort clubhouse from friends and family.

“I should have said a few words at the end but I didn't want to steal their limelight and to be honest I had nothing prepared that could in any way have conveyed the love and respect I have for all these guys.

“I was honoured to watch from the sidelines and one day I hope to participate myself, albeit in a shorter and more downhill sequel!

“The team’s initial target for Myeloma UK was set at £5000 but that has been doubled. I’d like to thank everyone who has backed us and donations are still flooding in to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/madrid2murcia.

Perthshire Chamber of Commerce director George Stubbs said: “It was an amazing experience for a great cause – but never again!”

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