15 months ago I didn’t own a bike, and I said I’d do the Unity Tour last year thinking it would be a breeze.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but here I am again ready to take on the challenge… Now I’m nervous because at least last year I didn’t know what was coming! But I know what to expect now.
I’m definitely not a cyclist and I won’t be taking part in the Tour de France any time soon. But I wanted to do it again because of what it stands for – to raise money for a really worthwhile charity and to honour colleagues who have died in the line of duty. I was one of Mary Henry’s Family Liaison Officers, and broke the news to her about PC Jon Henry’s death. He was murdered while on duty on 11 June 2007.
Mary is the strongest person in the world and I’m still in touch with her – I know she will be cheering me and all the team along this year.
There are lots of hills on the route which are horrible, some of them feel like you’re cycling up Mount Everest! But I’m not afraid to get off my bike and walk up them if I have to. 200 miles is a really long way and it’s hard work, but what keeps me going is the team spirit and knowing that we’re all in it together. People of all cycling abilities have come together for a really good cause, and although we start off as colleagues we end as friends.
I started fundraising in March, and when the first donation came into my JustGiving page, the reality hit home and I realised I’d better start getting ready! So I’ve been cycling about three days a week, anywhere between 25 to 70 miles each time, to make sure I’m prepared.
Last year I raised £2,250 and I’m hoping to raise a similar amount this year – I’m at £1,900 this year so far which is really encouraging.
Last year the last day was the hardest. We had torrential rain and it was freezing cold, but seeing the families of fallen officers cheering you on as you’re coming into the finish line makes the pain worthwhile.
Will I do it again next year ? You bet I will!
PC Sam Sparkes is taking part in this year’s Unity Tour – her second Unity Tour. The Unity Tour is a 200 mile bike ride to raise money for Care of Police Survivors (COPS) and to honour fallen colleagues.
You can donate to Sam’s JustGiving Page here and follow the team on Instagram: @bedsunitytour