At the end of June, myself along with a group of 5 other members of the Tarvin Cycling Club from Cheshire head off to France to cycle some of the iconic and extremely tough Alpine mountain passes, following in the tyre tracks of the famous "Tour de France" riders!
Unfortunately the group will depart with one member of the team missing.
One of my best friends, Mark Porton, was diagnosed with a rare and pernicious form of Leukaemia last July.
Mark underwent a tough course of chemotherapy from August through to December 2012 and all seemed to go to plan, leading to the fantastic news in January this year that he was in remission from the cancer.
During the latter stages of his treatment, and with a view to giving Mark (a keen cyclist) a major goal to come back to and focus on, we planned a trip to the French Alps at the end of June to tackle some of the classic road climbs that are used on the Tour de France.
Mark is a cycling addict and loves everything about the sport so the plan to ride in the Alps provided a huge incentive to get back to full fitness. He even commissioned a custom, made-to-measure bike as a comeback treat!
However, at his first regular check, three months after being told me was in remission, Mark received the devastating news that the leukaemia had come straight back.
Mark is now under chemotherapy again, but with the prospect of having to rely on receiving a bone marrow transplant. As ever, Mark is facing up to this prospect with his positive, matter-of-fact, just get on with it, attitude. If all goes to plan, he will be having the operation sometime in the next three months followed by twelve months of recovery. I’m sure you’ll join in wishing him all the luck in the world with the treatment.
Meanwhile, the Alpine cycling trip goes ahead at the end of June. The six-man team has been training for many months as they are planning to take on some of the toughest climbs that are used in the Tour de France, like Alpe D’Huez and the Col du Galibier. The Galibier is one of the toughest of the lot – it goes up hill non-stop for 20 miles!!
We have just done our last big training ride in North Wales and are now about ready to tackle the Alps after six months of preparation. All the effort has been worthwhile especially since we are also raising money for such a great cause as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.