The Dodds family will be getting back on their bikes for Cycling Scotland’s Pedal for Scotland this year.
Larbert High School second year pupil Anthony (12) persuaded his parents Steven (43) and Bonita (42) to take on the 45 mile Classic Challenge from Glasgow to Edinburgh last year.
The trio cycled with a group from Falkirk Junior Bike Club, of which Anthony is a member.
This year, they will be taking on the challenge alone – but Steven’s 71-year-old dad George will also be getting in on the action!
And when we met up with the family on a training cycle ride to the Falkirk Wheel, George discovered there was more to the challenge than he originally envisaged.
Steven, who works as a police officer, said: “We all enjoyed taking part last year.
“It’s a really well organised event with lots of stops along the way for water and sustenance.
“And you really need a wee break after getting up that big hill at Slammanan and the incline at Standburn!
“We got through it last year thanks to Morag Macdonald from the bike club playing Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees all the way up!
“But the Pedal for Scotland volunteers are fantastic at encouraging you too, particularly in Linlithgow when there’s just one more hill to go.”
With George having what he calls “the heaviest bike in the world”, news of so many ascents on the route came as a bit of a surprise.
“Steven told me it was just a wee ride along the canals and on roads without traffic – there was no mention of all these hills,” he said.
“I might need an oxygen tank and my wife better get the insurance sorted out!”
Joking aside, though, George – who has been married to Jennifer for 48 years on September 2 – is not a novice in the saddle.
The former shipping surveyor, whose job took him to 42 countries around the globe, started cycling again when he retired in 2012.
He clocked up a lot of mileage in his first year but the passion waned a wee bit – that is, until Anthony inspired the whole family to get back on their bikes.
Bonita, a compliance manager with Barclays Bank, explained: “As well as being a member of the junior bike club, Anthony’s also working towards his track cycling accreditation at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.
“He has really inspired us, as a family, to get cycling again and we all feel the better for it.
“Anthony is no doubt the fittest but we’ve all developed a new love for cycling.
“We did a lot of training for Pedal for Scotland last year but cycling is now part of our everyday lives so we’ve been doing our own training in the run up to the event.”
Bonita enjoyed her new hobby so much that she became a member of Belles on Bikes Falkirk last year.
In July, she took part in the Belles Big Ride 2018 and is now training to be a leader with the women’s cycling network, developed and supported by the charity Cycling UK.
She added: “A group of us also took part in the Belles and Buns bike ride in Dunkeld this year, a 64 mile cycle, which was fantastic.”
Steven took on his own special challenge earlier this year too – the Cateran Yomp.
He said: “It was pretty tough going. You have to hike 54 miles in under 24 hours – I did it in 23 hours and 41 minutes and raised £500 for ABF The Soldiers Charity.
“We didn’t want to go round the same people again asking for more sponsorship so we’re doing Pedal for Scotland as a family day out, not to raise funds.”
That being said, George is hoping the cycle will help to raise some funds for the Catenians in Falkirk.
The social group for Catholic men is trying to raise funds for a church in Nigeria, covering the costs of a new roof.
George said: “As a group, we’re trying to raise as much as we possibly can.
“We’re not sure how much it’s going to cost but I’m sure some of my fellow members will sponsor me.”
Meantime, the family have spent the last month ensuring they are in tip-top condition for Pedal for Scotland.
And Anthony is really looking forward to the event.
He said: “I really enjoyed it last year. It didn’t feel hard when we were doing it but I couldn’t feel my back by the time we got home!
“I’ve been doing a lot of cycling though so, hopefully, it won’t happen this year.”
Cheering the Dodds on from the sidelines on the day will be Anthony’s grandmother Jennifer and his siblings, Emily (11) and Christopher (6).
There’s still time to take part
Celebrating its 20th year in 2018, Pedal for Scotland has now become the country’s biggest bike event.
The annual Glasgow to Edinburgh ride raises vital funds for local charities, including Pedal for Scotland’s official charity partner, the STV Children’s Appeal.
Thousands of people from Scotland and beyond are expected to take part in the 45 mile Classic Challenge, with an optional 100 mile Big Belter for more advanced cyclists and a 10 mile Wee Jaunt for families and riders of all abilities.
Organiser Cycling Scotland is hopeful that more money than ever before will be raised at the event on September 9.
Keith Irving, chief executive, said: “Pedal for Scotland is one of the country’s biggest and best family events where riders of all ages and abilities get together to cycle between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“Not only does Pedal for Scotland help people get active and have fun, each year the event raises an incredible amount of money for Scottish charities and community groups. We are hopeful that this year will be a record year for fundraising.”
Roads will be closed along the route and diversions in place to enable cyclists to enjoy a safe, traffic-free environment.
Keith added: “Because the event is for cyclists of all abilities, it’s necessary to have the road closures in place but we try to do what we can to mitigate disruption.
“Managed access plans can be arranged for those making priority journeys, such as social care visits or for carers.
“But people need to get in touch with the team in advance to make these arrangements.”
To organise an access plan, call the event team on 0333 300 3485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details on this year’s event, visit www.pedal.scot.