Last month, a group of 30 Celtic-minded cyclists got on their bikes for the 20th anniversary of the club’s 2003 UEFA Cup Final run. Cycling over 1,000 miles from Celtic Park to Seville, this was in order to raise much-needed cash to support the fantastic work of the Celtic FC Foundation.
Our founder, Vincent Harkins, was one of those in the party and last week he returned home back to Glasgow. Here’s his story…
What made you get involved?
Cycling has always been a passion of mine, it has always helped me clear my head. The Celtic connection was also a big draw, as being a lifelong fan of the club, I was keen to get involved. Over the years I have cycled long distances like John O Groats to Lands End, Mizen Head to Mallan Head to name a few, for charity.
The team at Aspen Solutions are big supporters of local charities, so being part of this Seville trip was too good a challenge to turn down.
What was the weather like?
Coming from Glasgow, we know what the Scottish weather can be like when you make plans for an event like this, but it was dry with good conditions overall. Surprisingly, it was in Spain that we hit the worst of the weather. The first few days coming down from the Northern region through the towns and villages, the rain was relentless and cycling was treacherous. You really had to keep your wits about you. Thankfully, in the last few days as we got closer to Seville, it went back to sunshine and blue skies.
What were your highlights?
Rolling into Seville on the final day was an incredible feeling – the locals were definitely bemused, but it was a tremendous sense of accomplishment to have completed the tour.
That first day in Glasgow though, outside Celtic Park with the boss, Ange Postecoglou, meeting us all to wish us the best, plus former player, Tom Boyd, joining us for the first section of the journey was brilliant.
The number one highlight for me though was my 3 grandkids at the stadium climbing over me and my bike to wish me good luck then chasing me down the street as the cycle started in Glasgow!
Any key learnings you took away from this adventure?
I’ve cycled for years, and with a 2-week tour like The Road to Seville, you are competing against the elements, not the others in your party. Pacing yourself and taking each day at a time is vital. There is absolutely no point in battering yourself over the first few days when you have another week’s cycling ahead of you.
Certainly, when the weather turns for the worse, that is when accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.
My main focus was on the wheel in front of me to ensure I kept myself safe in the saddle, as well as supporting my teammates around me too.
How much has been raised?
As of the end of May, we have raised over £75,000 for the great causes supported by The Celtic Foundation. A huge thank you to all those that sponsored me and the guys taking part!
Would you do it again?
It was an amazing experience, but I definitely missed my family. I would love to do something similar again in the future, but maybe not quite as long as the 2-week tour.
Sponsors list & thank you
I must acknowledge that the support crew were excellent and so helpful every day. They had a van as backup carrying supplies and handling any injuries along the way.
The team at Glasgow Fruit Market donated boxes of bananas, tangerines and bottles of water and that gave us all an energy boost when we needed it. Our appreciation goes to Tommy and the Fruit Market guys.
If you would like to know more about the Road to Seville 2023 tour, one of the cycling team, Peter Ledwidge, ran a blog to report every day on the trip sharing the experience with map routes and photos. Read his report of the trip here.
There’s still time to donate to our fundraiser – click here to visit our JustGiving page.
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