Many of you may know or recognise Lydia from various Alarm concerts or Love, Hope And Strength events. Last year she not only did the three UK "Rocks" events but also decided to cycle between each one taking her through Wales, England and Scotland. She is now preparing her next fundraising project for LHS, cycling the famed Route 66 in America so it seemed a good time to catch up and talk to her about her plans.
When did you first start fundraising for LHS?
I first started fundraising 2 years ago with a bike ride South to North Wales.
What was it that attracted you to them over other charities?
It was Mike's example that attracted me to fundraise for them...he is a really inspirational man. Also like many other people, I have lost friends and family to Cancer.
Last year you decided not just to do the trio of Snowdon, Avebury and Ben Nevis but you threw a bit of cycling into the mix too! Why did you decide to go the "extra mile" and how challenging did it make it?
I like to set myself difficult things to do as I find it interesting to find out exactly what point I mentally and physically "break". I think that if everything was easy, there would be no sense of accomplishment in achieving. The harder something is, the better the feeling about finishing it. The main challenge was the time factor as I wanted to be in Fort William in time to set up my tent and go to the Gig in the evening. That and carrying all my kit and wild camping added the extra difficulty.
What have you raised to date for LHS?
Over the 2 challenges I have done I have raised just short of £2000...a drop in the ocean really.
What would you suggest to those wishing to start fundraising?
Find something you enjoy doing...make sure it is a challenge for you and not too easy...then just do it!
How did the Route 66 idea come up?
I'm blaming Lily Elsayed for this one! She asked me what I was doing next after the Snowdon -Ben Nevis ride and jokingly suggested America, unfortunately the idea was then planted in my head and before I knew it I was planning the route.
When and where are you starting?
We start on October 4th in Chicago and end on November 1st with a gig in L.A. (Joe Silva has confirmed that he will play and other artists are being approached) having cycled to Santa Monica pier. It will take 4 weeks of cycling approximately 100 miles a day with 4 rest days if there are no unexpected delays.
What locations do you take in and how can people keep up to date with your progress?
We go through Illinois, Missouroi, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Full details are being posted on the Facebook page 1 day at a time.
Are you going to be riding with anyone from LHS USA?
Not this time. However, as a change for me, I will be cycling with Matt Whitney - drummer for Chris Summerill and Fireroad. This will present a challenge for me as he is much fitter than I am and it will be new for me to have to take someone else into account. Normally I stop when I like, keep going if I feel good and eat when I want to when cycling but I will have to learn to accommodate someone else in these things this time. My friends and family are happy that someone will be with me as they are worried about the danger factor of this ride (something that never bothers me too much).
Is there any help you still need?
The main form of support we are still looking for is someone to donate/sponsor us for a support vehicle to carry our kit/food etc...and provide somewhere to sleep in on the way. Without a support vehicle it might be beyond both of us to complete this challenge, though if we have to we will!
How can people donate to your efforts?
People can donate at http://www.justgiving.com/Route66LHS or if they can offer sponsorship e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also support us by "liking" our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Route66LHSCycle where we will be posting updates, route details, training rides and hopefully a day by day account of the ride itself - saddle sore complaints and all!
What other LHS plans do you have in mind after Route 66?
Funny, someone else asked me that today! It's difficult to answer, it depends on how well I survive Route 66 and the state of my savings after to be honest! This is going to be difficult to top and the challenges seem to be getting bigger every year. If anyone has any ideas or wants to plant any inspirational seeds in my head feel free to email me! I have always wanted to climb Everest!
What keeps you going when on a trek or a ride?
Many things...long bike rides are a microcosm of life. One minute you are feeling as bad as you have ever felt (usually when going up a hill in the rain, being passed by lorries), the next minute you are carefree and flying long with the feeling that life is wonderful (downhill!).
Things such as the generosity and kindness of strangers, the knowledge that whatever pain and suffering I am feeling, it doesn't compare to anyone who is undergoing treatment for cancer or other illnesses, a beautiful view (when you get to the top of a hill), being alone with my thoughts, listening to The Alarm whilst I am cycling along and pitching my tent at the end of the day in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature...can't beat that!
When did you first discover The Alarm?
My Dad gave me the "Raw" album to listen to when I was a kid, swiftly followed by "Change" and "Declaration". I played them over and over again. Then I grew up, got married and started my career and kinda lost touch over the years. My marriage was breaking down and I saw The Alarm were playing in my home town so I went to see them and fell in love with the music all over again, I guess it never left me, it only went away. Since then I have been to 2, 3, 4 gigs every tour, done Snowdon, Avebury, Nevis and been to The gathering. It has kept me going through some difficult times.
What is it that attracts you to them?
I love the fact that whatever mood you are in there will be an Alarm song to fit! The fact that Mike, Jules and the boys really care about their fans, taking lots of time to talk to them, sign stuff and even playing outside in the shopping mall when the venue kicks everyone out! The tireless efforts of Mike and the LHS team to raise money for such a good cause...where Mike gets the energy from I don't know but I want some of it!
What's your favourite Alarm memory?
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play my guitar on stage with Mike and the boys at Oxford Academy. I will never forget that day.
Do you have a favourite album or song?
I have many favourites but top of the list would be Breathe (perfect when standing with my bike by myself in the middle of nowhere), Badge Of Honour, Time To Believe, Newtown Jericho, Elders and Folklore, Alarm Calling and The Deceiver.
We wish Lydia and Matt every success in America and remember if you can help or want to sponsor them or make a donation click the links below!!!