Biking cross country for cancer research
My wife was diagnosed with cancer last year. She has a very specific type of thyroid cancer for which there isn’t currently a cure, and she has undergone multiple surgeries.
While we were going through this difficult time, cycling became a bit of a sanctuary for me, and gave me a sort of release. I’ve done a few ultra-marathons and long-distance cycling events in the past, and I wanted to do something to raise money for the hospital where my wife was being treated, that would be meaningful and get attention.
So, I came up with this idea of cycling from my current home in the suburbs of London, to my original home of Manchester, in the northwest of England. I figured most people in the UK would have driven from London to Manchester at some point, and so could appreciate the distance and get how difficult it would be!
Tell us how it went?
I left home at 3:00 am, went through the outskirts of London, Twickenham, and Uxbridge, and then up the middle of England towards Leicester and Derby. I cajoled four friends into joining me for sections of the journey, so I didn’t have to go it alone.
The hardest part was the last 75 km, not just because I had already gone so far, but because we hit the Peak District and the Pennines. We climbed 2,000 meters in this section, which was more than 2/3 of the overall climbing distance that we did over the entire day.
What kept you going?
I was tired, I was exhausted. But, you know, and this sounds a little bit cliché, compared to what my wife has had to go through, this was still nothing.
I'd also intentionally made quite a big deal of doing this, so I had to complete it to not end up with egg on my face! When you think you've hit that point where you can't go any further, you find you’ve actually got another 70%.
I started in the dark and in the cold, and finished in the same way, pulling into a pub at around 9:30 pm where my friends and family had camped out to welcome me.
What has been the reaction?
I've had amazing support from my friends and family. Not just in sponsorship, but also in thinking about other ways to raise money, calling in favours to get me signed Chelsea shirts, debenture tickets for England at Twickenham, and other items that we could auction to raise more money.
I’m also lucky enough to know Roy Stride, the frontman of Scouting for Girls, who’s married to my wife’s friend. He came up with this idea of doing a competition with his fans to get tickets to one of their concerts if they donated to the cause. I got so many supportive messages on my Instagram from this as well as raising more money.
We've raised about £25,000 to date and I'm hoping that we might get to maybe £30,000. I’d like the money to go into research finding treatments for the genetic cancer mutations that have no cures, that others may benefit from in the future.
Will your adventures stop here?
I won't be doing this again, but I do want to keep raising money to help fund research, so maybe something more sedentary. But honestly this whole experience has been great and gave me something to focus on when everything else felt really tough.