Indian cycle trek saw 19 riders drop out . . but not Ronald

Ronald Graham
Ronald Graham
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HIS determination was as strong as his stomach of steel.

When 22 intrepid cyclists set off on a 650-mile bike ride across India, Edinburgh’s Ronald Graham had no idea he would be one of only three to complete the challenge.

Within six days, almost all of them had fallen victim to illness, prompting most to pull out and admit defeat.

“I was very sick myself, but I just decided to keep on cycling,” said Mr Graham, 44, from Duddingston.

“I was one of only three people who completed the bike ride and I’d like to think I did Scotland proud.”

Mr Graham, returned home having lost half a stone in weight and still fighting off a draining illness.

The team cycled from Delhi to Jaipur in the Rajasthan district – and slept off the physical effects of eight hours of pedaling each day in ramshackle hotels and, on one occasion, a tent.

He said: “It was very difficult. The ride was mostly off-road, which was difficult when you are up against the heat, it was very humid with no air conditioning. And because the food was so unpalatable, I lost a lot of weight.

“It really was a challenge within a challenge – the cycling itself was difficult enough, and that was with me having trained all year for it.

“The hard part was trying to stay alive – you had cars coming towards you, animals on the road.”

Of the 22 cyclists taking part, 18 were English and three Indian, while Ronald was the only Scot.

All of the fundraisers became ill during the ride – some violently.

It was the first time the organisers of the event, Charity Challenge, had trialled the cycling route as part of its repertoire of fundraising feats.

Participants were all attempting to raise funds for charities of their choice.

Mr Graham, managing director of Leith-based Ronald Graham Roofing and Building, said: “I wanted to do something for the Mark Wright Project because it’s close to my heart. I have friends who are active service personnel.

“You hear about soldiers who are killed in active service, but not much is said about those who come back who have lost their arms or legs.

“I don’t think people do enough for them or realise what these guys actually have to go through.”

Mr Graham’s efforts drummed up at least £4000 for the Midlothian project.

But this is not the first time he has raised money with the aid of two wheels.

Last year, he cycled through the mountainous regions of Jordan to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, after his wife, Lynne, was diagnosed with skin cancer.

But his gruelling experience in India has done nothing to put him off his free wheeling challenges. Next year, he has his sights set on a course through the Amazon.