CHARITY cyclist Jayne Metcalfe achieved a personal ambition and helped raise hundreds of pounds in memory of a special young man.
This summer Jayne, of Rastrick, cycled 790 miles - almost 500 miles - along the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
She was raising money for Martin House Hospice near Wetherby which cared for her neighbour Matthew Henson who died of cancer a year ago at the age of 24.
“He was just a fantastic young man and we all remember him,” said Jayne who works as a behaviour tutor at Rastrick High School.
Jayne, aged 41, and her friend Kay Beckett spent 10 days cycling from the French Pyrenees to the cathedral city of Santiago, the third holiest site in the Christian world. The two women met in 2007 when they undertook a sponsored cycle ride from Angkor Wat in Cambodia to Saigon.
“We got on well and have stayed in contact ever since. I’ve wanted to cycle the pilgrim’s way for some time and when Matthew became very ill the ride began to take shape. Kay said she was keen to do it and we started planning in March.”
Jayne said that making the journey was ‘one big adventure’.
“It was hard going at times and some of the climbs were very tough but you were always rewarded with stunning views. We saw very few female cyclists and we were unusual in carrying our own kit - most cyclists on the route sent their luggage on ahead.
“But, though it might have taken us longer to get to the hostels at the end of the day, we always got there in the end. There was a lot of good-humoured banter and everyone was very encouraging and supportive.”
The two friends were daunted one day, as they started up one particularly demanding climb, to be stopped by Spanish drivers saying ‘malo, malo’ and pointing back down the mountain.
“We weren’t quite sure what to make of it but in the end we just dug in and carried on. It was a very long climb - 1,1225 metres - but the feeling of exhilaration at the top was incredible.”
Jayne and Kay’s route often took them parallel to the ‘camino’ - or the pilgrim’s route - and they were able to swap stories with the people making the journey on foot. Their trip took them through searing heat and green vineyards, through the cities of Pamplona, Burgos and Leon, through spectacular mountain scenery and across viaducts.
“Once we found ourselves cycling on the motorway,” said Jayne. “This old lady was shouting at us in Spanish. I couldn’t understand what she was saying but I think she was telling us to get off!’
The women’s journey ended in the spectacular Santiago de Compostela. “The day after we arrived we went to the Pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral. We were elated at having finished and it was a very emotional experience.”
Apart from a couple of punctures and broken brake cables, the friends suffered no mishaps on the journey and were very impressed with the friendliness and sense of community among the people they met on the way.
Jayne has raised £700 so far for Martin’s House and hopes to carry on collecting more donations.
“Everyone has been very generous - the Grove pub at Rastrick has given £80 and the Black Swan in Brighouse has given £70 - but I want to try and raise more in Matthew’s memory.”
Anyone would like to sponsor Jayne should log onto www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Henson