SHE has cycled hundreds of miles in blistering heat and challenging terrain across Cuba.
And now Helen Pearce is celebrating after raising thousands of pounds for Parkinson’s UK.
Helen, 42, from Kingsmead Avenue in Stubbington, took on the mammoth challenge as her 78-year-old father, Eric Small, suffers from the illness.
‘I have always fancied doing a cycle challenge,’ she said.
‘When I saw it and knew I was going to be raising funds for the charity, I wanted to do it.
‘It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.
‘But it was really worthwhile.
‘It was a great sense of achievement and I was able to raise a lot of money at the same time.’
Helen was among a group of 12 cyclists who rode almost 200 miles across the Caribbean island, all to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.
In total, Helen raised £3,000 for the charity.
‘I’m not a regular cyclist but I wanted to take part in a big cycling challenge to raise funds for people like my dad who have Parkinson’s,’ she added.
‘My two brothers have trekked the Great Wall of China and I was inspired by them.
‘The sense of achievement I felt when I cycled 9km uphill to finally reach the top on day four in Hanabanilla was indescribable. I now feel that if I can do that, I can do anything.
‘It was a great way of seeing the country. If I had gone there on holiday I probably would have gone to one resort.
‘But we travelled the country and went up through the mountains into Havana. We had a Cuban team leading us who knew all the locals.
‘So we got to see Cuba exactly as it was, mixed with all the people.
‘It was upsetting when you saw people in poverty. But it spurred me on to find out a lot more about the country. The people were welcoming. They opened up their homes to us.’
The team cycled in high temperatures at around 32C over the five day trip.
‘It was a real team effort,’ she added.
‘With cycling you do get a breeze.
‘On some days we struggled a bit but it was achievable. It wasn’t bad at all.’