Confined to their flat for 14 days after returning from the UK, Britons Mini Maxwell and Laura Normand broke up the Covid-19-enforced quarantine by spending more than 30 hours on a stationary bike covering the distance (919 kilometres) from Hong Kong to Wuhan.
“We were asking, should we go home and face quarantine, should we not? But this was quite an exciting challenge to do when we got back and make our time go faster,” said Maxwell.
The pair were raising money for Feeding Hong Kong, a charity that collects food that would otherwise be thrown out, and distributes it to homeless people and other in-need groups.
“I was slightly apprehensive whether it was going to be possible,” said Normand. “I’ve only just bought my indoor trainer. Neither of us had much experience on it, but we started to work out if it’d be possible. ‘Well, it’s going to be horrific’, we thought, but if we’re going to raise money it’s got to be nuts.”
The pair pedalled in shifts – three hours on, three hours off. They aimed to average 25km/h but exceeded their expectations, which was just as well, given they started after finishing work on a Friday.
“I wrote the schedule and if we averaged 75km per session it would take us through to Sunday afternoon,” Normand said. “That’s when I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be hard’. We just had no idea, we had never done anything like this before.”
Instead, they finished after 30 hours and 30 minutes, early on a Sunday morning.
“It was more the adrenaline that kept us going than anything else,” Normand said. “It wore off, I had a meltdown on Sunday. Post-event, I was balling on my bed. I had no idea why. My parents were on the phone explaining that this is what people who do extreme sports experience, they have huge lows the next day.”
The start of the cycle was tough as they tried to work out how to make their challenge more comfortable. The seat was narrow and hard, not build for long distances, so they got a gel pad to sit on. The seat was set too high for Maxwell, so she was over extending her legs.
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It was only when I had to write this out that we realised just how long large and LUDICROUS this challenge is going to be!! ♀️ We will do as many live updates as poss so tune in and send us some virtual kudos (& money ) THANK YOU Donate at tiny.cc/628rsz/
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Maxwell said: “It was the pain of sitting for that long against the pain for the cardio. I felt I was fit enough for it. Obviously we were tired, but it wasn’t outrageous in terms of cardio. It was more about the pain in the joints.”
Above all, the charity donations kept them pedalling.
“The pressure started coming on when the money started coming in. I thought, ‘Oh god, we really have to go for it now’. And that was half of what kept pushing us,” Maxwell said.
“Feeding Hong Kong rely on volunteers and now they have to stop accepting volunteers,” Maxwell added. “A lot of food they get and distribute to homeless people comes from the airlines, which obviously aren’t flying, and the bakeries are shut, too. They also rely on big companies. So, this is the time they need help.”
You can donate to their charity here.