HELPING TO RAISE £1,000,000 FOR CURE LEUKAEMIA

My Epic 21-Stage Tour De France Challenge for Cure Leukaemia

WHO AM I

You know when you meet people who say, “Life hasn’t been boring”. I think that probably sums up how I got here. Lots of ups and downs, that’s for sure.

I was lucky enough at a young age to play a professional sport (football) in England. However, at age 21 and after playing over 100 games, I played my last game and retired a year or so later.

For the most part, since then, I have primarily worked in the sports and leisure industry. I have been fortunate to live and work in different countries for over 17 years (the USA and Hong Kong), before returning to the UK in 2017. Trust me, it sounds a lot more glamorous than it has been.

Over the years until 2012, my weight increased and exercise gradually decreased, meaning I piled on the pounds and developed a few health issues and mentally and physically struggled with this.

The redemption began when I moved to Hong Kong from the USA in 2011 to head up the Hong Kong Sevens. After all the previous attempts, I started exercising one step at a time. I remember the first time I went out walking, I felt like I was having a heart attack after only 100 yards. However, each day, I progressed further until I could walk a mile. Eventually, two miles and then hikes in the hills. It felt like I had rediscovered myself and vowed never to return to that place.

I have spent the subsequent years working hard on my health. Despite a stent on my heart in 2018, I have remained relatively healthy and exercise regularly.

For many years, I struggled with chronic arthritis in my knee and a few other issues resulting from my knee injury, which left me unable to bend or straighten my leg. A knee replacement in 2019 has transformed my life. Before this, I could not walk, hike, or cycle. After my operation, I had a new lease of life. I bought a spin bike and worked hard to keep fit and healthy with a combination of spin bike, hikes and golf.

Without a doubt, I have seen all sides of this, having gone from professional sportsman to obese and back to fit and healthy. This has been a constant battle, both mentally and physically. I live one day at a time, hopefully heading in the right direction.

There is a great saying, “Don’t look back; we’re not going that way.

 WHY AM I WRITING THIS BLOG

I am incredibly honoured and privileged that in June 2024, I will be tackling The Tour 21 on behalf of Cure Leukaemia. Alongside 24 amateur cyclists as we look to complete the entire Tour de France route one week ahead of the professionals. This will be the most demanding, physically and mentally challenging event of my life and well worth it.

Starting in Tuscany, Italy, Tour 21 will take place from Saturday, 22 June – Sunday, 14 July and will tackle all 21 gruelling stages and 3,492km/ 2,170 of the Tour de France route. It is one of the world’s most gruelling sporting challenges, which will see the team tackle over 52,300 metres of elevation across the 21 stages—the equivalent of cycling up Mount Everest six times.

It is the first time the Tour de France has started in Italy and the first time it finishes in Nice to avoid the preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which begins just weeks later.

FUNDRAISING

I may grow to like cycling, but I am only doing this to raise funds for Cure Leukaemia.

The Tour 21 is Cure Leukaemia’s biggest annual fundraising event.

Each rider is set a minimum fundraising target of £30,000 to collectively raise over £1M ($1.2M).

I need your help, individuals, businesses, groups, cyclists, and non-cyclists, all help is appreciated and every penny counts. 

Click on My Fundraising Page

Therefore, I want to showcase the journey and share that with people.

WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE ABOUT

The Journey – A middle-aged man in lycra with a stent and a knee replacement who has never ridden on the road before.

I have no cycling pedigree and would not be anyone’s choice for a lycra model. Isn’t there an acronym for middle-aged men in lycra (MAMIL – I just looked it up)?

Fortunately, I don’t own much lycra, except for a few items I use on my spin bike. I wouldn’t say I like things that cling to my body, and I am not looking forward to having more lycra in my wardrobe. I appreciate why this has to happen and understand that riding the Tour in baggy shorts, a tee shirt and trainers is not practical. Still, I do think they are missing a trick here.

I am not a gym junkie, a triathlete, or even an ultra runner. I laughed out loud when I wrote that bit. Who likes gyms?

Too many fit people are working out, and it isn’t very comforting. I am simply someone who chooses never to go back to the way I felt previously.

This is about my journey on and off the bike, the ups, the downs, the battles and how I fundraise, train, the equipment, the help I receive and maybe the rejections and ultimately how I am hoping to change people’s lives by helping find a cure for leukaemia through fundraising.

The aim is to update my blog constantly.

At the moment I don’t even have a bike, yet, you have to start somewhere. I do have a spin bike, so that’s good.

WHY PEOPLE SHOULD READ IT

This is not a cycling holiday. I am not a cyclist and not a very good cyclist. Who am I kidding? I AM NOT A CYCLIST.

That alone should interest you as to how I am going to get my arse up and down close to 2200 miles.

I will include my training program, my nutrition, and my learning curve, which will be steep. I am sure there will be some laughs, maybe tears along the way, and lots of pain, no doubt. But it’s for a good reason.

After all, I have no equipment or a training program yet, but watch this space.

Come with me on this journey; I promise it will not be boring.

After they stopped laughing, I mentioned the Tour 21 challenge to a few people. They all had the same comment: “You’re doing what?” There were a few WTFs, but you get the picture. However, they were also 100% supportive, which eased some of my anxiety and asked, “What can we do to help?”.

WHY – THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT

Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with Blood Cancer.

Money raised will be invested in the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP), which has been solely funded by Cure Leukaemia – the UK Charity partner of the Tour de France since January 2020.

TAP is a network of specialist research nurses at 15 blood cancer centres in the UK’s biggest cities. This network enables accelerated setup and delivery of potentially life-saving blood cancer
clinical trials to run, giving patients from a UK catchment area of over 30 million people access to treatments not currently available through standard care.

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