Guest Blog: Nikki in Dubai

January 10, 2017

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Check out some extracts from Nikki’s Dubai diary (or Dubai-ary?) where she takes us through her experience taking on the Spinneys 92 Cycle Challenge with Cor and some other Troopers. You can read the full thing via the link at the end of this blog!

Day 1

“For those of you who don’t know us, I’ll try to explain along the way for a bit of context, y’know?! But the main “characters” are myself obviously, Cor (set up FYF, quadruple amputee, boss), Connie (4 limbs – how weird, organiser of the trip), Becca (amputee, cyclist on trip), Hope (amputee since August, fellow highlander, cyclist on trip), Taz (amputee, cyclist on trip and self proclaimed NED) and Emma (4 limbs – also weird, joining us on cycle to raise money).”

“We were last on the plane, and in true FYF style, limbs were removed fairly quickly and stored in the overhead locker. It caused a chuckle later on when Doreen (Cor’s mum), went to pass someone their leg but didn’t know which one it was. We got some assistance when we arrived into Dubai airport, it’s so big that it saved some people having to walk the whole way. We ended up doing part of the journey on one of the golf cart style buggies. It sounds like the airport experience was going really smoothly for us.. and it was, until Doreen (Cor’s mum) realised she’d left her passport in the toilet.. which was before we caught the buggy! Oops!”

“It was around 2.30am Dubai time when we got to the hotel. We checked in, and the concierge, Ahmed, gathered our bags. The tiredness had apparently set in as we ended up with a fit of the giggles while we were in the lift up to the rooms. After exploring our room and checking out our view of the Burj Khalifa, we finally collapsed into bed about 3.30am…”

4.1481760000.taking selfies at the wrong meeting point

Day 2

“We met for breakfast at 9am. Connie was already there having a chat with Jon-Allen Butterworth (Paralympic gold medalist at the Rio olympics and joining us on the cycle) as they are heading out this morning with Cor to do a talk at a local school. Davy (Cor’s other brother) and some of his pals, Pete, Kenny and Tommo joined us in the breakfast hall. They’d got a later flight out than us, and this was them just arriving at the hotel! They will also be joining us on the cycle and partly helping to make sure we make it around the route in one piece. No pressure.”

“This afternoon we are going for a training session. It’s never too late, right?! We were also getting meet our cycle pilots and do general bike checks. By this time, Connie was back from the school trip, and was organising our taxi to the rendezvous point. We were enjoying sunning ourselves while waiting for the other cyclists to meet us at the designated meeting area. Little did we know, we’d be sunning ourselves for 40 minutes because we were at the wrong place! A few phone calls later, Scott and one of his friends worked out where we were and came to pick us up! It really wasn’t our fault.. we followed instructions!”

“A tad behind schedule, we finally met some of the other cyclists and our tandem pilots. Once we’d all built up some confidence on the bikes, we were let loose on the cycle track. It was a ‘mere’ 8km. For novice cyclists like ourselves, it felt like 28km! We were introduced to Peter Winterbottom tonight (former England rugby player) as he will also be joining us on the cycle. Tomorrow is the big day where, incase you don’t know, we’ll be cycling a 92km route in the sweltering Dubai heat. What on earth have we agreed to?!”

4.1481846400.during the cycle

Day 3

“My alarm went off at 3.55am. I’d like to say it woke me, but unfortunately I didn’t actually sleep last night so here’s hoping the adrenaline gets me through the day! We planned to meet at reception at 4.20am which would give us time to get taxi’s and make our way to the Autodrome where the route would begin.”

“After having a slight delay in the taxi, we were then left with 5 minutes to find our bikes, find our tandem cyclists, get all of our gear together and lather on the factor 50.Because of where the parking area was, we had to cycle to the starting area. It was about a 5-10 minute cycle – with a hill. An actual hill. I know it isn’t far.. but really? Because 92km just isn’t enough?!”

“The cycle was going well and we found that we all ended up cycling in our own little groups. Although Nigel was my tandem pilot, Keir was our wingman for the duration and these were the two guys I was trusting to get me round in one piece.”

“There were 2 cycle races going on today. There was a 53km and a 92km. We were under the impression that if we cycled at a certain pace, then we would automatically qualify for the 92km so we pedalled hard for the first half of the route. It was only when we got to the cut off point that we realised we also had to pass within 4 minutes of the lead cyclists, which we certainly didn’t! The officials told us that we were now only allowed to complete the 53km back to the Autodrome. We were so disappointed when they told us this, but a plan was already underway for us to still complete 92. In order for us to get onto the 53km route, we were asked to make a U-Turn which took us across a 6 lane motorway. This would have been absolutely fine if the officials hadn’t then let the traffic back onto the road! As cars beeped their horns, we pedalled fast to try and get onto a safer stretch of road. This was when I was particularly thankful that Keir was along side us keeping an eye on the traffic and making sure they weren’t driving towards us! I hope he realised he was potentially risking his life when signing up as wingman!”

4.1481846400.some of the girls

“We had done it! We had cycled over 92km!! The feeling of pride was overwhelming. Not just of myself, but of every single one of us. The support and encouragement from all of the other cyclists and seeing so many people cycle as part of the FYF team is a feeling and memory that we are all taking away with us. Every bruise and blister was worth it, but having said that, I was very happy to see a physio waiting for us with her Compeed at the end of the cycle! The highlight for everyone was seeing Becca cross the finish line with team FYF all around her. Her achievement was outstanding and at that point most people lost control of their emotions!”

“We had a fantastic night at the party and made it to 1.30am (ish!) before it was time to go home. Everyone came over to speak to us during the night and we were really feeling the love from everyone there. I’m not going into detail about what antics occurred at the after party.. what happened at the after party will forever stay at the after party!” pic

Day 4

“There’s no rest for the wicked and although we were dancing until the early hours, we were still ready to leave the hotel at 8am. Scott had arranged for us to go swimming with dolphins today. How amazing?! The dolphin experience was at Atlantis on the Palm. The drive towards it was really surreal. It’s such an iconic building when you see pictures of Dubai, and I couldn’t believe we were right there!

“We were taken out to the pool area to meet Peefilee, the dolphin. We had a brilliant time, we got to have a cuddle, dance with her, play fetch and even give her a kiss! Taz was the only one who seemed to be a little scared of the dolphin. I’m quite sure she wasn’t going to bite his other leg off but I guess you can’t be too careful!”

4.1481932800.dolphin experience

“We returned to the hotel briefly to wash and get ready for our last dinner here. We were heading to a much more local area, but what we never thought to consider was what would be appropriate to wear there. We read about what you should and shouldn’t wear in Dubai before coming out, and so far on the trip we haven’t had any problems. In the central touristy areas it’s ok to wear shorts and strappy tops, and even with having prosthetic legs on show it didn’t seem to be a problem. Turns out, it definitely is a problem in the local areas! Dinner was very relaxed. We were sitting on a wooden balcony overlooking all the boats going up and down the river and felt really thankful for such an amazing trip. Before getting our taxis home, we had a quick walk round the Souks before they closed and picked up a couple of souvenirs. It was the perfect end to our last day.”

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Day 5

“Unfortunately, we have to go home today but being as we don’t have to leave the hotel until midday, there was time to cram in some time at the pool after breakfast. Emile (cycle support and GoPro expert!) had uploaded the video footage of our cycle onto Facebook, and we all felt very emotional watching it. He captured the moment(s) perfectly!”

“We arrived at the airport ahead of time. The good thing about the return journey was that we had Davy, Pete, Kenny and Tommo to help with the tandems. Aside from the fact there was a slight issue at check in with weight and how the tandems should have gone through (sorry again Connie!), we headed off to security.”

“We had better seats for the flight home. We were all in a row! We said our goodbyes at the airport and started to make our own way home. It was strange knowing that we weren’t going to be messaging to see what time breakfast was in the morning! We’ve come home with some incredible memories from this trip and we’ve all had the most amazing time. We’re extremely grateful to everyone who made it happen, to those who supported us – those at home and those in Dubai, and also to everyone that took the time to sponsor us.. you know who you are! THANK YOU!”

“Until our next adventure…”

4.1481846400.the gang

You can read Nikki’s full blog here.