The fanfare from the awards ceremony celebrating the amount raised during last year’s LifeCycle Challenge have barely quietened down, but the cyclists are already gearing up to start training for the 2023 event.

Joe Aquilina, Smart Technologies Limited Co-Founder and CEO, is one of those who is still riding on a high — after the team behind the LifeCycle Malta Foundation successfully raised €167,739 — and is planning to get back in the saddle in the coming weeks.

The 46-year-old was one of 18 cyclists who cycled almost 2,000km over 10 days from the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires across the gruelling terrain to reach the Chilean capital of Santiago to raise money for renal patients and kidney research.

Having last month been recognised for his contribution, together with the other cyclists, Mr Aquilina is not about to let his legs lose any muscle memory and is looking forward to embarking on his fourth LifeCycle Challenge.

“LifeCycle ticks a number of boxes for me. First and foremost the scope behind the foundation and its noble cause, coupled with the fact that it offers me the opportunity to pursue what I enjoy doing while raising money for those requiring renal therapy,” he says.

The challenge is far from a smooth ride, and the cyclists spent an average of nine to 10 hours a day riding through rough terrain, never-ending climbs through the Andes, and temperature variations of between 18 to -1 degrees Celsius in a matter of a few hours.

“Although the training prepares you well for the challenge, the natural conditions test your mettle every day, and you develop aches and pains in parts of your body you didn’t know existed.

“I have to be honest, I did think of stopping more than once, but then I remember the reason behind this challenge and reflect on the suffering of renal patients and any thought of stopping is wiped away,” he recalls.

Mr Aquilina is very grateful for his family who put up with his long training sessions — two to three hours a day during the week and 10 to 12 hours over the weekend —and for the support of his colleagues, cycling buddies, and sponsors who helped him raise money for this cause.

Among these was Melita Business, which operates the Smart Cloud in partnership with Aquilina’s Smart Technologies Ltd.

Malcolm Briffa, Director of Business Services with Melita, said: “What Joe Aquilina  and his fellow cyclists endured over 10 days is a feat that tests their physical and mental endurance. We are proud to be backing a cause that strives so hard to raise awareness about renal disease, raise funds for treatment and invest in research.”

As Mr Aquilina gets his cycling boots polished for this year’s challenge, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks, he encourages others to sign up.

“It’s true that this requires a lot of time and personal sacrifice, but the fact that you are making a remarkable difference to someone else’s life should convince anyone doubting their abilities to come forward.”

Donations to the LifeCycle (Malta) Foundation can be made through bank transfers via Swift code VALLMTMT, IBAN MT 18 VALL 22013000000014814521017, with the bank name being Bank of Valletta, and account number 14814521017.

The destination of the 2023 LifeCycle Challenge along with its dates will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information visit https://lifecyclefoundation.com or https:// www.facebook.com/LifeCycleChallenge.

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