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Our Frankie’s a true peak performer

SECTT Training Officer reports back from his very own Italian job after cycling more than 300 miles through spectacular and challenging scenery

SECTT Training Officer Frankie Greig has come back from his Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge a changed man: a new level of fitness, a positive attitude to life and pride that his efforts have raised £2,880 for the Electrical Industries Charity (EIC).

During four days in October, Frankie cycled 323 miles from Venice in the east of Italy to Milan in the west, taking in the Romeo and Juliet city of Verona on the way and enjoying breath-taking mountain views of the great Italian lakes: Garda, Como and Iseo. 

Although he would be cycling in some spectacular countryside, he knew that it was important to prepare himself for the challenge, so dad-of-four Frankie trained hard in the months leading up to the event, going to the gym regularly as well as taking on a personal trainer.

Frankie, 41, said: “I was doing a lot of spin classes, sometimes four to five times a week for months on end but it’s not just about your legs as you also need to focus on your upper body, arms, shoulders and chest – your core. That’s why I got a personal trainer who could work on the upper body to make sure my frame was stiff and strong for when I was on the bike for long periods of time.

“Despite all that training you just don’t realise how tough the challenge is until you’re there.” 

Although the first day’s cycle from Venice started gently, Frankie was soon testing his resolve and stamina as the route left the flat plains and forested low hills and transformed into gruelling steep hill climbs. 

Frankie said: “The other guys on the challenge, who were more experienced at hill climbs, assured me that I would come into my fitness fairly quickly, as I would be cycling every day. However, I made a rookie error on the first day by trying to keep up with everyone else. It was alright on the flat roads leaving Venice at the start of a 93-mile cycle that day but when we started to encounter steep hills that’s where I felt the pressure. I managed to keep up until lunchtime but for the rest of the day I was struggling like a dying horse because I pushed myself too much at the beginning. So I learned my lesson: go at my own pace from there on. 

“There was a big hill every day and they ranged from not bad to really steep to pretty vicious. I think the first day was the worst as the road just kept on climbing for seven miles.

“However, it was the best feeling when we got to the top and then could freewheel down the other side at 30-40mph giving your legs a welcome rest.”

Frankie got into his stride over the next three days, taking in the views of the lakes from the mountain roads and the camaraderie of the group in the evenings when they stopped at hotels and enjoyed Italian hospitality.

The last day from Como to Milan involved cycling to Madonna del Ghisallo, a mountain chapel which is dedicated to cyclists and is at the highest point of the challenge at 754 metres, overlooking Lake Como. 

It’s here that Frankie got to see some professional cyclists who impressed him with their level of fitness. 

He said: “At Como there was a professional race going on and these pros just made it look like they were going downhill when they were actually coming up as they were going so fast – it was just a different level altogether.”

From the chapel, Frankie was able to almost freewheel all the way back down towards Como then on to the angulating trail to Milan to then celebrate the end of the challenge at Piazza del Duomo in front of Milan Cathedral. He was delighted to have finished the challenge and raised money for the EIC, as he explained: “The EIC is all about mental health and I’ve benefited from their support as I suffer from poor mental health.

“I know that the EIC has also done a lot for my apprentices as well as some of the adult trainees at West College Scotland, Paisley Campus, so I’m delighted I can give something back to the charity for their support.

“Personally, I got a great deal from my experience in Italy and although I was slower than the rest of the guys and I struggled more on the hills, I got over the finish line and I’m proud of that.

“It made me realise I shouldn’t have worried about too many things. I just needed to focus on what’s important, rather than worry about all the miles ahead.

“There were times that I doubted I could complete the challenge but every evening I was buoyed up by messages of support on social media I got from colleagues and friends in the industry, and my family.

“I would encourage anyone in the electrical world that has considered taking part in one of these challenges to sign up and help the EIC continue the amazing work they do

“I would like to thank SELECT and the SJIB and all their members, and everyone who sponsored me and supported me through this challenge, and not to forget SECTT! I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Frankie added: “It was an amazing trip and I saw some beautiful sights, but I can assure you it was anything but a holiday!”  


The itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Venice

Day 2: Venice -Verona - 91 miles

Day 3: Verona-Lovere 96 miles

Day 4: Lovere-Como 72 miles

Day 5: Como-Milan 64 miles

Day 6: Leave Milan



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