Cycling and cancer have a curious and fascinating relationship. Few could have failed to hear the amazing tale of the seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, who, after contracting testicular cancer in 1996, had to have lesions removed from his brain, and multiple tumours extracted from his lungs. Yet as soon as he was able, he was back on his bike – fighting his way to better health from the saddle. Just three years after being diagnosed, he had won the world's toughest cycling race.
A similar story is that of David Hillier, a former city executive who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 37 and given two years to live. Like Armstrong, he fought his disease on two wheels, and six years on has raised more than £400,000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity on numerous sponsored bike rides. More importantly, it's now been more than two years since doctors detected any sign of the disease in his body.
I heard David's story for the first time last week, at a press conference for a charity bike ride taking place in London's Docklands this September, which is hoping not just to raise money for the cause, but also to raise the profile of prostate cancer. Although it's one of Britain's most common killers, prostate cancer does not get the same profile as many other illnesses – perhaps because men tend to be reluctant to talk about it.
A bike ride to raise money and awareness sends the message that not only do we need to pay more attention to this disease – and put more money into research and regular screening – but also that taking to your bike can be part of the cure.
I'm already signed up for the race and am hopefully joining the former England international footballer Graeme Le Saux in a team put together by Evans Cycles. The race is only just over 20 miles (each team member does one 34-kilometre lap), and given that I cycle more than 11 miles each way to work every day, I'm confident I'll be able to put in a half-decent time.
There are places for 500 teams of four, and the entry fee is £500 per team. Your entry will earn you free cycling jerseys for each member of the team, as well as free bronze membership to British Cycling and a 10 per cent discount kit voucher to use at Evans. And if you work for a large company, it's possible you'll be able to persuade them to foot the entry fee for you.
The roads around the Docklands will all be closed off for the day, and for the sprinters out there, the course designers have worked in a couple of special sections – one of which is on the airport runway at City Airport!
If you can't put a team together, it should still make a great day out. To read more about it, visit www.realmancyclingchallenge.com.Reuse content