4 cyclists : 2800 kms in 21 days to Newcastle, UK
Alan, a fitness instructor, thought about cycling from Malta across Europe to his place of birth in Haydon Bridge near Newcastle, as a gesture of gratitude to the Renal Unit staff who had done so much for Carmen. To make the cycle a greater challenge he decided to set himself a goal of completing the 2,800 Km in just 21 days.
At first, Alan planned to do it alone, in order to raise a few hundred liri for St. Aloysius College Gym where he worked. Later, however, he found himself his first companion for this arduous trip when he mentioned his idea to Tony Bugeja, the senior nurse of the Renal Unit. It soon became clear that the right publicity could raise more money and a better awareness of kidney failure could be built. Two more cyclists; Mark Bonello, a storekeeper, and Carmel Asiak, a bank manager & part time bicycle repairman ; joined them. All had to undergo 5 months of intensive training for the first Life Cycle Challenge which was due on the 29th August 1999. Three others – Nicky Vassallo (shopkeeper with extensive knowledge of travelling in Europe), May Caruana (a psychology student who took charge of the cooking duties) and Ian Gatt (a physiotherapist) formed the backup team.
By the time the team left the Maltese shores on route to Reggio Calabria in Southern Italy, the Life Cycle had evolved into Organization with a highly motivated voluntary committee. This simple idea had become a challenge that caught the attention of the local media and Maltese people. Three members of the team completed the event in just 19 days. Unfortunately Tony Bugeja was forced to quit just 4 days before the end due to medical problems beyond his control. The team entered the small village of Haydon Bridge at 8.30pm having that day covered an amazing 240 Km. All cyclists received a heroes welcome from the locals who raised 1000 sterling for the cause and treat the team to a civic reception the following day. This was how Life Cycle was born.