Three teachers, 160 kilometres, one mission

Meet the teachers at WSF who are cycling from ‘Coast to Corporate’ in a bid to raise AED10,000 toward Covid-19 relief in India

(l-r) Vice Principal Emmanuel Keteku, Head of Arabic and Islamic Asif Khan, and Head of Secondary James McAleese, from GEMS Winchester Fujairah

GEMS Winchester School Fujairah (WSF) Vice Principal Emmanuel Keteku, Head of Secondary James McAleese, and Head of Arabic and Islamic Asif Khan are donning their Lycra shorts and helmets for a gruelling cycle challenge to help raise funds for Covid relief in India.

The three WSF colleagues are fans of the sport and, inspired by our CEO’s message regarding Covid in India, they decided to make their kilometres truly count.

“We have been riding together as a way of keeping fit, but also enjoying the great scenery that is just outside our school gates. There’s a well-known cycle challenge here in the UAE called the Coast to Coast, which is from Sharjah to Fujairah, and we had this idea to ride from WSF to the GEMS School Support Centre – which we called ‘Coast to Corporate’. When we saw Dino’s email we decided to do the ride in a way that shows solidarity with India.

The cycle team aims to raise AED10,000 for Covid relief in India, and are appealing to the whole GEMS network to help them smash their target. “The cycle will certainly be a challenging distance for each of us, but it’s nothing in comparison to what so many people in India have had to contend with. Even if we do not achieve the target, we want the challenge to show that we are thinking of them.”

James, who has been cycling for 20 years and completed the Tour of Flanders and other European sportives, is no stranger to extreme cycling. In 2015, he became an official ‘Madman of Ventoux,’ earning the moniker given to cyclists who complete the challenge of cycling up all three sides of the highest and most famous cycling mountain in France, Le Mont Ventoux. While Manny and Asif are less experienced, they are no less enthusiastic and passionate about the cycle challenge.

The trio will be cycling on 11 June, starting at 2am to beat the heat. The 160km route will see the team pass through steep inclines over the Hajar Mountains, as well as long stretches through the desert where there are no water or pit stops. They will be supported by Teaching and Learning Assistant Principal Lee Wilson (general all-round cameraman, bottle re-filler and soigneur). The team aims to arrive at SSC by 8.30am, when the rest of us mere mortals are just about waking up for the weekend.

David Wade, Principal at WSF, said: “I live in Dubai and work in Fujairah, and I am captivated on every drive by the changing landscapes of city, mountains and desert. I am immensely proud of our three senior leaders that have committed to cycle the journey that I enjoy from the comfort of my car. As a school community, we support James, Asif and Manny in their impressive quest to raise money and awareness for the differing plights of the thousands affected by the pandemic in India, including families of those in our own school community; I am jealous of their drive, passion and fitness!”

We wish the team the very best of luck with their challenge!

Check the GEMS Cycling Community group on Yammer for details to come on how to make a donation.

JOIN THE PELOTON: If you’re a cycling enthusiast and would like to cycle with your fellow GEMSsters, join the GEMS Cycling Community group on Yammer. James McAleese has created this new group so GEMS staff can connect with colleagues for local weekend rides, share cycling experiences and be part of future challenges to take on Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, Jebel Jais in RAK and, once again, the route from Fujairah to SSC later in the year.