Following breakfast at 8am on Thursday 9th February, a team from Annan Rugby Club departed from Cardiff’s Principality Stadium as part of the Doddie Cup 555 Challenge.
The Doddie Cup 555 Challenge being a charity cycling event in honour of Doddie Weir, who very sadly succumbed to MND on 26th November last year. The ride was led by Doddie’s former Scotland and British & Irish Lions teammate Rob Wainwright aiming to deliver the match ball for the Doddie Weir Cup, but the ultimate goal is to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, to help find a cure for MND.
Due to the number of clubs to visit in Wales the teams were split into two pelotons, (A)108 and (B)105 riders respectively.Annan being allocated to Peloton A comprising 16 teams including players from the 97 British Lions team.
The boys then travelled along the South Wales coastline to their first stop of the day at Kidwelly RFC, via Port Talbot, Swansea, and Llanelli, where a warm welcome awaited them including some songs from the local primary school choir.
Then it was off on another stint through central Wales to Llandovery RFC, Carmarthenshire, before another climb to Llanidloes RFC, Powys, before embarking on the final stretch of the day to Welshpool, Powys, where the team enjoyed a well earned 4-hour break.Accommodation being provided in the gym hall at the local High School.
A 4am start saw the team leave Welshpool and travel to Wrexham Football Club where they enjoyed breakfast.Both pelotons then merged before crossing into England at Chester and travelling to Orell RFC, Wigan where they enjoyed lunch and hospitality from the host club, who had also arranged the availability of physio treatment and bike mechanics for any of the rider’s requiring assistance.
Fully refreshed the team then travelled to Wharfedale RFC which is in the village of Threshfield North Yorkshire for another refreshment stop before heading off to the final stop of the day at Darlington Mowden Park RFC via Wensleydale, Richmond and Scotch Corner for another well-deserved 4-hour break.
Around Midnight the team left Darlington and headed North to Alnwick RFC, Northumberland where they enjoyed a hearty breakfast before crossing back into Scotland and heading to the penultimate stop on the ride at Dunbar RFC, where they were greeted by a lone piper, before arriving into the capital city for the final stop at Edinburgh Accies RFC, where they received their final much need refreshments and some hot showers.
Around 215pm on Saturday 11th February, following their epic journey the cyclists gathered in Charlotte Square, before a Police escort took them west via Haymarket to the Murrayfield where the match ball was presented to HRH Princess Anne prior to the KO in the Scotland V Wales Six Nations Rugby International, in which Scotland were victorious and fittingly won the Doddie Weir Cup, which was presented by Doddie’s wife Kathy.
During the ride the team covered 555 miles, with an elevation of 26,556 feet, remarkably only suffering one punctured tyre and a minor fall, in the car park at Darlington Mowden Park due to some spilled oil on the road surface, which had no lasting adverse effects.
Team Captain Billy Henderson said – ‘What a fabulous event to take part in. My team of Gordon, Carmichael, Andy Black and Gary Coupland as drivers and support, Sean and Thomas Buckley, Graeme Hogg, Tom Sloan, Craig McCann, Barry Graham, Dek Reive and Roy Thorburn as Bikers and myself doing the public relations with the other teams, clubs and the supporting public.
Our reception along the length of the 555 miles was exceptional and the friendliness at each stop was tremendous.
Stand out moments for myself was meeting a lady in Welshpool who had been involved in my ‘Isle of Coll Beach Rugby Tournament’ and being the first team to bike into Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, before the Police escort to the game. What a rousing and inspirational reception we received.I had a slight tear in my eye when I addressed my team and the crowd with a few wise words and finished off with a Paul Daniels and Eating snow joke.The bike ride through the streets of Edinburgh to BT Murrayfield made us all feel 10’ tall, with all the supporters cheering and best wishes ringing in our ears’.
At time of writing the team have raised nearly £42,000 from the ride for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and should you wish to support Team Annan or any of the individual riders you can do so at – https://www.justgiving.com/team/team-annan
The Annan Rugby 555 team would like to thank:
Rob Wainwright and the Doddie Ride 555 Team for the chance to participate in such a great event, it has been an unforgettable experience.
Team Sponsors – Annan Rugby Club, Atkins, Annandale Distillery, Halbro, Isle of Coll Distillery, Albie Forestry Ltd, Endura, Select Drams Strathaven and Annan Academy (Home Economics Dept) for their support.
All those individuals involved at The Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Kidwelly, Llandovery, Llanidloes, Welshpool, Wrexham, Orell, Wharfedale, Darlington, Alnwick Dunbar and Edinburgh Accies, for their hospitality and provision of much needed refreshment, food and facilities throughout the ride.
Everyone who has donated or supported the ride either at events, during collections or by donation via the just giving page.