Marathon bike ride provides lasting memories

June 17, 2014


WORTHY CAUSE: Poole Hospital staff Penny Jarvis and Amanda Colman with parish priest for St Mary’s Wimborne Road, Mark Skelton, who travelled 500km to raise over £20,000 for Dignity In Dementia.

Obstacle course

OBSTACLE COURSE: This was one of the bridges that the team of cyclists had to take a gulp before taking their cycles across it.



STRIKING PLUMAGE: This is a toucan, one of the indigenous birds in the Costa Rican rainforests.

River crossing

WATER WORLD:  The team negotiate their way across a river during their marathon bike ride.

Banana plantation

FRUIT FEST: This is a scene from a banana plantation where one of the UK’s favourite fruits are sourced from. Costa Rica exports five million boxes of bananas annually.


Journey's end

JOURNEY’S END: Penny, Amanda and Mark are pictured with their travelling companions throughout the nine-day trip who were riding for other charities on the beach of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.


THREE adventurous cyclists from Poole have given more details of their exploits in raising money for charity via a 500-kilometre cycle ride across central America.

Poole Hospital members of staff Penny Jarvis and Amanda Colman, along with Father Mark Skelton, parish priest of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Wimborne Road, Poole, have raised £20,000 for Dignity In Dementia.

The charity is a trust fund within Poole Hospital Charity that supports hospital patients with dementia by making improvements to the physical environment within the hospital’s wards and departments.

The marathon cycle ride took place over the space of nine days in the early part of April and Fr Mark Skelton told a group of over 100 people at the church hall more details of the challenges, the scenery, the locals and wildlife.

In 2010 Costa Rica was cited by the United Nations Development Programme as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels and identified as a good performer on environmental sustainability.

The trio and their companions visited a banana plantation and found that the system used to get bananas to the UK is labour intensive.

Banana bunches of 25 kg are hooked to a cable pulled through the plantations along overhead tracks by individual runners.

Mark said: “Costa Rica does not have an army and the vast majority of their energy is powered up by renewables.”

Many slides were shown of the exotic wildlife and domestic animals that Costa Rica has to offer including toucans, sloths, howler monkeys, caimans, water buffalo, laughing falcons, butterflies and 35 different types of hummingbirds. He even faced down his arachnophobia.

“The sloths don’t seem to do anything but they do have specific trees that they go into.

“The booming of a howler monkey carries a long way but when you saw them, they sound really aggressive but they were really quite small.

“There are so many birds in Costa Rica – an extraordinary number – and when you saw them, their plumage was really striking.”

Midway through the trip they took the opportunity to take a number of pictures of the volcano at Arenal and the lake that lies below it.

At the beginning of his talk, Mark made a special mention of the support team and the equipment that was provided which made the experience all the more unforgettable.

The group tried their best to start early in the morning to escape the heat of the midday sun but sometimes they decided to extend their cycling endurance through these hottest periods.

“The weather was gorgeous. We were supported by a van that drove ahead of us – it took our luggage, our food and water. Once in a while we had to wade across a river with our bikes. We always had a cooked breakfast and dinner.

“We were given brilliant bikes with very thick tyres and they were provided for us. The team only had two punctures on the whole trip. On the Pacific side, we went up some tracks that were incredibly hilly and bumpy and gave us difficulties.

“We stopped half way up the hills despite using a slightly higher gear. On some of the hills it was impossible to get any traction on the bikes, so you had put your weight down on the bikes and could only go in one gear.”

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