AROUND 200 fund raisers are getting ready to cycle from the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to Murrayfield in the coming days as they take part in The Doddie Cup 555 Ride. Between Thursday and Saturday the group, led by former Scotland and British & Irish Lions’ back-row Rob Wainwright, will cover 555 miles in 48 hours to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
A select group of the participants will then deliver the match ball safely to the national stadium in Edinburgh in time for The Doddie Weir Cup fixture between Scotland and Wales in the Six Nations which kicks off at 4.45pm on Saturday.
As well as Wainwright, other ex-Scotland caps such as Carl Hogg and Craig Chalmers are taking on the challenge in memory of their great mate, along with other big names such as Martin Johnson, Paul Wallace, Dean Ryan, John Devereux, Peter Winterbottom, Rob Henderson and Mark Beaumont.
Some of the riders will clock up all of the miles while others will complete the challenge in relay fashion as part of a team and there are rugby lovers from up and down the country – and beyond – taking part.
Two of those who will be involved are former Scottish Rugby president and Lasswade stalwart Ian Barr and Edinburgh Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen.
“Last year I was lucky enough to be Scottish Rugby president when the ball was handed over before the cyclists headed down to Cardiff for the Wales-Scotland match,” explained Barr.
“A few months later, Rob Wainwright and I had a chat at the Lasswade club dinner which he was speaking at and he reminded me that, as my term would be over, come 2023 I would not be involved in an official capacity this time around.
“However, he said I could be if I joined him on the cycle and, after some arm twisting, I signed up for the full ride alongside Rob and others in his team.
“I have had two knee operations in the last two years and although I have completed iron man events in the past and I have cycled, I would not say I am a cyclist.
“The training has been hard since I was able to get back on my bike in September, but I have been on a spin bike each morning for at least an hour [as well as being a farmer, Barr is a spinning and gym instructor], have been going out for longish cycles and when I was in Dubai with my wife, Tracy, recently, I was even in the gym in the hotel on the bike every day.
“This challenge will be like nothing I have done before and it will test me physically and mentally, but I am so honoured to be involved because Doddie was such a great man who continues to inspire.”
Barr’s parents were friends with Doddie’s parents back in the day, so the families have a long-standing connection.
“My eldest son, Duncan, was also at school with Doddie’s brother Chris and we used to quite often share the school runs with the Weirs, so we know them well,” he explained.
“Alan Bain, who I know well from being involved at Lasswade, also worked with Doddie in the septic tank trade and, in more recent times, myself and Tracy met Doddie numerous times at Murrayfield and he always had that cheeky smile on his face and the same love of life as always.
“It is brilliant that so many people are coming together for this cycle and I’m also really pleased to hear that a team of riders from Lasswade are also taking part.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 59)
Berthinussen also knew Doddie for many years having been a young player in Borders rugby circles breaking into senior rugby with Gala when the second-rower was playing for the Reivers.
“I had a brief spell with Doddie at the Border Reivers and he was such a character while I know his brothers Tom and Chris really well from my time at Gala,” said Berthinussen, who is part of the Hasbeens team which has been put together by former Edinburgh Accies and North and Midlands captain Rod Mitchell.
“Everything that has gone on over the last few years has just highlighted to us all just how grim MND is and I was just really keen to do something to help the Weir family and others whose lives have been hit by the disease.
“It has also been great to get to know the other members of the Hasbeens team [Dave McIvor, Andy Adamson, Jason Parrott, Colin McClung, Troy Maclachlan, Ross Young and Garry Bowe] better as well as the members of the support crew [Guy Richardson, Cat Hewitt, Fiona Young, Janie McClung, Thomas Mitchell and Niamh Mitchell].
“We will be together a lot in the coming days and we’ll all need the support of each other, but we will get there, for sure.”
The Hasbeens will be doing the ride in relays and it is his second big fitness challenge in the last few months – with leading his team to the Premiership play-offs for a second year running sandwiched in-between.
In August he completed 20 sprint triathlons in 20 days to collect money for Cahonas and raise awareness of testicular cancer.
“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in August 2021, but thankfully it was caught quickly and was dealt with within 20 days,” explained the Edinburgh BATs lead community development officer.
“To mark those 20 days, a year later I took on my triathlon challenge and it was really good to be able to spread the word about the great work that the Cahonas charity does.
“It was a tough challenge physically at times as I’m sure this cycle will be, but when you are part of something that is bigger than yourself and people are so generous with their support, well it makes it all worthwhile.
“And, as we sadly know, not all MND sufferers have the same profile as Doddie. He wanted to raise funds and awareness for those people – and we do too.”
Before all of the riders set off en masse from the Welsh capital in the early hours of Thursday, HRH The Princess Royal will hand over the match ball to Wainwright at Gloucester Rugby’s Kingsholm ground this [Wednesday] afternoon.
While the group ride from Cardiff, others are being encouraged to ride locally and donate £1 per mile.
Nearly £300,000 has been raised already thanks to The Doddie Cup 555 Ride and organisers are hoping to take that figure up and over £500,000 by the weekend.
All donations make an important difference and can be made via The Doddie Cup 555 Ride JustGiving page, by clicking HERE.