Louisa raises £2,000 + by completing charity challenge
* Louisa Jones, far right of picture, celebrates completing her Far East challenge with fellow riders.
Intrepid Llangollen Operatic Society member Louisa Jones has just completed her mammoth 280-mile charity cycling expedition through the Far East, raising over £2,000 for three charities
Back in 2012 Louisa Jones, 38, took part in a gruelling 260-mile cycling expedition through India in aid of three women’s cancer causes, raising over £3,000 along the way.
Over the past couple of weeks she's been back into the saddle for the same three charities - Breast Cancer Care, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.
This time she joined a group of 70 women to cycle 450km (280 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Here's Louisa's final report on her trip ...
On Tuesday afternoon we completed the final stage of our amazing journey by bicycle across two beautiful south East Asian countries.
After a short early morning transfer from the hotel to our bikes, we set out on a 25 mile route along a highway, which took us to the outskirts of the city of Siem Riep and to the finishing line at the UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor Wat. Some of us noted how 25 miles seemed by now like a leisurely walk in the park compared with some of the distances and conditions we had encountered during our challenge. Never thought I would be saying that!
It was another extremely hot and windy day and by now the effects of the heat and the physical exertion were starting to tell on a number of ladies, with heat rash and stomach bugs doing the rounds. The frustration of those who were suffering or had to spend time in the support bus was always very sad to see as everyone puts so much into this challenge and wants to complete every stage, no matter how tough.
After a snack stop along the way, we regrouped around 1 mile from Angkor Wat to decorate our bikes (and ourselves) with balloons and ribbons prior to crossing the finishing line. We then set off slowly as a group along the final stretch causing quite a spectacle along the way, not to mention a disruption to the traffic!
Crossing the finish line amidst much cheering and whooping was a brilliant feeling and a very emotional one too and I don't think there was a single dry eye. So many of the ladies had overcome huge personal challenges and illness to even get to Vietnam and Cambodia in the first place, so to actually complete this epic journey was a massive accomplishment.
The remainder of our time here has been spent celebrating and perusing the vibrant, bustling markets of Sian Riep before we fly home. A number of us also resisted the urge to have a much needed lie in and got up at 4am yesterday to witness the sun rising above the ancient temple at Angkor Wat, which was a truly magical moment well worth surrendering sleep for.
Heartfelt thanks to all who have followed my challenge and for the donations and words of encouragement I have received along the way. Personally, I have raised well in excess of £2000, every penny of which will go straight to the excellent charities supported by this mission. As a group, we raised a staggering £360,000 and overall, the four groups that undertook this particular event have raised £1.3 million, which is incredible.
The past week and a half has been a truly phenomenal and unforgettable experience and I'm really happy that I took the plunge and decided to do it. I can't recommend this type of challenge highly enough to anyone who wants to set themselves a personal goal whilst raising money for good causes and visiting new places and I believe firmly it is within all of us to complete something like this.