Euregiotour is a three day ride from Innsbruck to Arco on the Riva Del Garda, organised by the SudTyrol transplantation Sports club to advertise the benefits and advantages of organ transplantation. FWCC's very own heart and lung transplant ambassador made the trip and completed 210 miles and an even more remarkable 12000 feet of climbing, the equivalent of three times up Ben Nevis; on a bike. Day 1 took the riders from Innsbruck to Montagna, a distance of 155km. With the band playing and crowds cheering the peloton of sixty riders, thirty five of them transplantees, set off in the not so welcoming drizzle behind the police outriders and lead car, a proper Tour de France moment as all traffic through the city was stopped right up until the foot of the Brenner Pass. It was hard climbing with the gradient averaging 10% or more. By comparison, the average gradient up the local Dundonald Hill is 6.5%. Fortunately, 'Magic Marco' was on hand with his scooter to push struggling riders - literally - to the top of the climb. Rider Donaldson, however, was not one of them. Approaching the town of Brixen in Nothern Italy the police escort re-appeared and it was in to Bolzano for a special reception at the local transplantation hospital. Day 2 involved 86km of even tougher riding from Montagna to Rovereto with Marco and his trusty scooter leading the way again, eventually arriving in Trento and the headqwuarters of the UCI Gran Fondo sportive named after legendary French climber Charly Gaul. The clue is in the name. This enormous cycle event involves 2000 metres of climbing in the space of a scant 56km. Some idiots have signed up to ride it. Day 3. Rider Donaldson is on the start line with the current world champion, super star former pro and the person Irvine-based Graeme Obree beat to take the hour record, Francesco Moser, getting announced to the crowd as members of the Euregiotour. The starting pens are released, the countdown starts, and this is the closest to the front rider Donaldson and his cohort will get today. It's straight up to 40km/h over the cobbles getting dragged along by 4000 other riders through dodgy corners, narrowly avoiding street furniture, whistles blowing, danger flags waving, just like a Tour de France stage. Eight kilometres in and the climbing starts, and it doesn't relent. Donaldson was in his lowest gear with his cycling computer showing 7%, 10%, 12%, 13% gradients: steeper all the time. "I got on with the task of grinding up the hill, another hairpin, another 11%, the climb keeps on coming at me, will this never end!" Three kilometres out from the finish and realisation dawned that Donaldson could do this, in fact, he was catching someone. Five hundred metres to go and he's almost at his wheel; three hundred meters Donaldson is out of the saddle making one final herculean effort, catching the rider and crossing the line. It is like a finish on the Tour de France with cameras, TV crew, podium girls, big screens, helicopters, the complete package: the atmosphere is wow! Finding a quiet spot Donaldson reflected on what he had just done, in particular, that without an organ donor none of this would have happened. More information on NHS organ donation can be found on their website, https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/

Picture source: https://transdiaev.de/events/euregio-tour