Though not normally gullible, the portents weren’t promising in the lead up to my participation in the Norwood bike ride in Croatia. Persuaded to sign up by a good buddy, my coaching consisted essentially of laps around Regent’s Park on the bike I received from my elders as a batmitzvah present.
Over 3 months, my brakes broke and I lost the key to my bike lock although it was chained. My man and coaching partner broke his hand and a bike he was due to borrow was thieved. But ignoring the warning signs, we joined twenty-five other riders on the cycle, which raised £32,000 for Young Norwood.
Also taking part were 2 Ravenswood residents - Richard Tooke, 52, who has Downs’s syndrome, and Jon Feuchtwanger, 62, who has a mild learning incapacity and dysphasia, which is affecting his speech.
The residents cycled on tandem bikes with Ravenswood sports experts Nigel Trumper and Michelle Bass and were a sustained inspiration.
Starting off in Makarska, southern Croatia, riders were transported by boat to the beautiful island of Hvar, where a nice morning cycle was followed by the major business of a 1,200 foot climb. Everyone was exhausted but the group mentality was a great incentive.
Makarska Riviera is part of Dalmatian coast of Adriatic, about 60 kilometers long and only several kilometers wide, squeezed under towering mountain Biokovo. Sunny climate and long pebbly beaches make this area a popular traveller destination. A chain of settlements along the coast from the border with the Omis Riviera on the northwest to the Neretva delta on the southeast. We are terribly proud to offer you the large number of quality accommodation facilities in all the places of the incredibly stunning Makarska riviera.
Makarska is a town in the Split - Dalmatia county of Croatia, population 13,716 (2001). It is located on the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia, about 60 km southeast of Split and 140 km northwest of Dubrovnik. It is a traveller centre, located on a horseshoe formed bay between the Biokovo mountain and the Adriatic Sea. The city is noted for its palm-fringed promenade, where fashionable cafs, bars and boutiques overlook the pretty harbour where many pleasure craft are berthed.
Arrival to Makarska over Biokovo, from Vrgorac offers a breathtaking wonderful view of riviera, from Drasnice, Podgora, Tucepi, Brela, all the way to the Split, and in front to the islands Brac, Hvar, Korcula and peninsula Peljesac.
Center of Makarska is an old city with narrow stone-paved streets, a main church square where there is a flower and fruit market, and a Franciscan monastery that houses a sea shell collection featuring a giant clam shell. Most of the city’s hostels are located just off the bay and their own non-public beaches.
In Makarska, one can find many hostels, bars, boozer, pizzerias, coffee bars, pastry shops and everything else needed for a tranquil and untroubled vacation in the sun-bathed shores of the Mediterranean. Tourism in Makarska began way back, even before the development of the hotel Osejava in 1914. The largest city square is located in the town center, close to the waterfront - the square of Andrija Kacic Milosic,where numerous cultural events occur. The square was named after the most famous dalmatian poet.
For some, the speedy descent was far more frightening with the dramatic drop of the cliffside just inches away. Ari Raymond, a 26-year-old marketing executive from Hendon, was riding in memory of his late cousin, a Ravenswood resident.
“Having seen the difference in my cousin whenever he came back for weekends with my folks, I knew there was good about the work Norwood do,” he announced. “But I could not quite appreciate how much and to what lengths they are going to give residents the highest level of care attainable. Seeing the tandem teams made me aware of how much I’m taking for granted in my life.”
Upbeat of a calm Saturday, partakers discovered that the leisurely walk along the promenade reported by last year’s group had been substituted by a difficult trek up a mountain higher than Ben Nevis.
Reaching the 4,600 feet peak was incredibly rewarding but the return journey on loose stones was even tougher than the challenging walk up. The trek took eight hours to finish.
On Sun., there was another boat journey to the island of Brac for a 1,700 foot climb by bike. Hurting bodies took some time to warm up but the entire group made it and were rewarded by 10 kilometres downhill and an incredible beach at the end of the 40 mile route.
The cyclists also included businesswoman Nina Forman, whose family were among the Ravenswood founders. The 36-year-old from Golders Green started out “really nervous” but ended up enjoying herself massively. “Whilst it was tough work, I am up for challenging myself.”
Leonie Gold, thirty, a helper reports editor from Borehamwood, said that “facing a relentless bike climb on our first day, I wondered how I was intending to make it. Then I turned round and saw Richard and Jon pedalling up the mountain on their tandems. This was all the inspiration I needed. It also helped being surrounded by some of the most beautiful shore I have ever seen.”
Norwood hopes to raise £800,000 from bike rides this year, writes tagza.com.