Dons riders complete epic ride


Devoted Dons fans completed an extraordinary 302 mile fundraising bike ride from London to Gateshead raising £2600 last Saturday.


By Sam Smith

Devoted Dons fans completed an extraordinary 302 mile fundraising bike ride from London to Gateshead raising £2600 last Saturday.

The team completed the ride over four days in just over 21 hours and arrived in time to see AFC Wimbledon take on Gateshead in their final match of the season.

All the money raised will go towards purchasing new fitness monitoring equipment costing £4,000 for the first team.

“It was a fantastic effort,” said Russell Smith, who was part of the five-man team to complete the ride.

“I’ve done a half marathon before and to be honest I felt worse after that than after 300 miles on a bike!”

He was joined by fellow Dons fan Tommy Woolgar, club physio’ Mike Raynor, kit-man Robin Bedford and former Dons player Ross Montague who was released by the club last week.

“We’ve done really well to raise the amount that we did,” said Mr Smith.

“I don’t want to overstate our achievement, what we need now is other people to step up to the plate to raise money. Hopefully it will inspire people within the club to fundraise.”

The hardy riders made an inauspicious start to the ride after one of the riders was knocked over by a Royal Mail van after only half an hour of riding.

Happily though, the van came off worse.

The riders cycled on average seven hours per day and racked up an average speed of 15mph on their epic ride.

On their arrival at Gateshead’s stadium, the riders were greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd. 

Mr Smith says the final total raised is likely to be a lot closer to the £4,000 needed to purchase the fitness equipment with some more fundraisers to come.

And there are plans in the pipeline for a far more ambitious ride next year: John O’Groats to Land’s End! 

Money for the ride was generated through the sale of over 1,500 lottery tickets, each with an allocated time.

The lucky ticket holder with the time closest to the actual time that it took to complete the ride has won £302.

The Dons Trust, which owns the club, has a target of £100,000 to raise each year in order to pay off debts on the club’s stadium.

The bike ride marks the culmination of fundraising efforts over the year, and Mark Davis, head of fundraising, is delighted with the efforts of all involved in the fundraising effort.

“It’s been a good year for fundraising. We will have met the budget and we’ve tried out a few new ideas,” he said.

“We’re always looking for people who will bring not only ideas and enthusiasm but also a willingness to take responsibility for organising projects – and we were lucky with some new recruits to the fundraising team this year.”

Mr Davis says although he expects to reach the £100,000 figure, he is not expecting to beat it by a huge margin.

He said: “It’s probably fair to say that the recession had some impact, in the sense that we had to run a few more events this year than last year to reach our budget.

“However, supporters continued to dig deep because they know how important fundraising is to paying off our debts on the Kingsmeadow ground.”

The Dons have had a solid season on the pitch this year finishing a respectable eight in the Blue Square Premier in their first season in the division.

With the first team turning full-time next season and plans in the pipeline for a new stadium, the future for the Dons looks bright.

However, the man at the heart of AFC Wimbledon, Club President and former Dons goalkeeper Dickie Guy, suffered a serious heart attack two weeks ago. 

Mr Guy has since been released from hospital and continues his recovery at home.

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