Bute man takes part in memorial Lockerbie to US cycle challenge

Bute man Brian Asher (beard and glasses), headteacher at Lockerbie High, was among the party cycling to Syracuse.
Bute man Brian Asher (beard and glasses), headteacher at Lockerbie High, was among the party cycling to Syracuse.

A man from Bute was part of the five man team who recently undertook a mammoth cycle challenge to remember the US students who were killed in the Lockerbie air disaster.

Brian Asher has been headteacher at the Borders town’s high school for nearly five years. The 43-year-old and his teammates finished the journey last month that 35 Syracuse University students couldn’t that fateful night in 1988.

Bute man Brian Asher (beard and glasses), headteacher at Lockerbie High, was among the party cycling to Syracuse.

Bute man Brian Asher (beard and glasses), headteacher at Lockerbie High, was among the party cycling to Syracuse.

The team cycled a continuous journey from Lockerbie Academy to the New York State university, and with a little help from school pupils in the Lockerbie area clocked up an incredible 3238 miles.

To mark the upcoming 30th anniversary of the terror attack on December 21, ‘Cycle to Syracuse’ was instigated by the people and emergency services in Lockerbie, to remember all those lost, honour the response of the community and emergency services and to show support for all who suffered in the times that followed.

Brian revealed that the trip was tough on his head as well as his body: “It was difficult physically and mentally. We had very challenging weather at times. Challenging terrain.

“We had much more climbing to do than we thought. We thought it was 4/5,000 feet over the whole piece but there was 6/7,000 feet every day.

“The cycling was an experience, but that kind of paled a wee bit next to the experience of meeting the students’ families. That was the unknown quantity. We felt we are doing it as our tribute, our way of recognising the anniversary.

“But you never know how others are going to react to that. I wasn’t really prepared for the warmth, the love and the gratitude we received.

“It was very emotional.”

The former Rothesay Primary and Academy pupil revealed more about the cycling challenge. He said: “We did it in three stages. Two in the UK, one in the US.

“The first stage was going around the local schools connected to the academy. We spoke to 1,600 kids together. Getting them cycling and active.

“They did the virtual miles we did in the plane. The final bit of that was made up by staff and pupils at the academy on static bikes, who clocked up 180 miles.

“The next day we had a mass cycle event from Lockerbie to Edinburgh Castle, which was 72 miles. That was quite special.

“Then in America it was 600 miles to Syracuse. Because of the terrain, the weather and lack of day light hours, as well as meeting families and university people, we could only do about 450 miles on the bike.

“We had to cut our cloth as directed to each day with what we had to do. As much as we would like to say we cycled the 600 miles we wanted to meet the families and that was more important.”

Brian explained why the 30th anniversary cycle came a little bit early.

He said: “The university has always marked the anniversary in October as they are on holiday in December.

“We did this as we wanted to look back and remember everyone who lost their lives.

“And we were raising funds and still are. To give to a local charity called Soul Soup.”

To donate, go to https://cycletosyracuse.com/donation/.