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Cast your mind back to March and the Travel Show; do you remember us telling you about a certain Ollie Blackmore, who was undertaking a cycling challenge to raise £25,000 for Big C UK and $25,000 for BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island?

You lovely lot raised £1,200 at the show, and £500 of that went towards Ollie's fundraising. Click here to have your memory refreshed.

Well, Ollie's back from his adventure - and we thought we'd see how he got on!

You've just cycled solo around Vancouver Island. You must be shattered! Is it good to be home?

It’s great to be home, but I wish I was still out doing the challenge. It’s a stark contrast being in a city with thousands of people and everything available compared to being in the middle of nowhere in forests with bears and cougars for company! I’ve had a decent break after the ride but am training for London 100 and Tough Mudder amongst other things so can’t let myself get too tired!

What was the most challenging part of your ride? Were there ever times when you felt like giving up?

There were so many challenges thrown at me every day. Getting lost was a huge problem. My satellite devices stopped working in heavy rain which meant I took wrong turns up the side of a mountain where the road had collapsed under landslides, trying to get my loaded bike through that was nearly impossible. On that same road I encountered a bear who stared at me and didn’t look like he was going to budge, it was a scary experience knowing I was on my own and in bear country. There were several days like that.

The day I nearly jacked it in was when I was riding with no water in 37 degree heat, shaking and about to collapse. I had never anticipated that kind of temperature, nor had I expected my water supply to have leaked leaving me with no water! Some days, especially those when I got lost and wasted hours trying to work out where I was, were the worst. Trying to get motivated after times like that, being soaked, cold and hungry and knowing there are another 80 miles to go, took some self-persuasion!

Did you manage to hit your target of £25,000 for Big C UK and $25,000 for BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island?

Very nearly in the UK, about £8k to go, but I have several fundraising things to do! It was much harder fundraising in Canada as I have limited connections there and found it difficult to get coverage. Nonetheless it’s nearly $2,000 that will go a long way to helping a great local charity.

Did the Canadians make you feel welcome? We reckon they're one of the world's friendliest nations!

It’s certainly a stark contrast to Britain; most people seem grumpy here by comparison! I was overwhelmed with their generosity, humility and good nature. A hostel owner offered me a room and breakfast for free in Port Hardy because they loved what I was doing, I couldn’t believe it! I was grateful not having to sleep in the tent for the night.

You were camping alone in the wild, aiming to avoid the island's cougars, bears and wolves. Did you have any near-misses?

I had to be very careful about how I prepared food and where I stored it. All deodorants, food and items that attract wildlife had to be hauled up a tree branch that couldn’t be climbed. Several nights I heard things moving around outside but never knew what it was. In total I saw seven bears and a tail of a cougar. Countless times I would hear things crashing around right next to me when I was out in the forest.

I had an encounter with a bear on a logging road from Port Alice to Zeballos (which I got lost on); I came around a bend and saw it eating at the side of the road.  I was about 60 meters away and it didn’t see me so I stopped to film it. I had to make it aware of me being there to avoid startling it and causing it to charge. Rather than run away straightaway like most of them do, it stood looking at me for what seemed like an eternity. It then took a few steps forward which I immediately responded to and backed away myself. But I had to keep up making noise and waving my arms about to make myself look bigger and show I wasn’t prey. It eventually ran off around the corner, to my relief.

Finally, do you have any more fundraising plans in the pipeline - and will we see you at the November Travel Show?

I’m riding the London 100 and doing a Tough Mudder this year along with some smaller sportives too. I am planning to do another challenge next year but have some options to work through before deciding upon which way to go with it. I think I’ve caught the bug now! I’ll definitely be there at the Travel Show!

If you'd like to donate to Ollie's chosen charities, click here


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Ollie Blackmore's Cycle Challenge is over - but how did he find Canada?
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