Gill M.
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The Bloodwise London to Paris cycle challenge - a supporter's view

Gill M.
Posted by
09 Sep 2016

What it meant to watch my brothers and 250 other cyclists complete the Bloodwise London to Paris bike ride.

From the first day of being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in August 2013, I have always enjoyed the unwavering support of my wonderful family and friends. This support has sometimes come in unusual forms: in 2014, I was thrilled (if not a bit surprised), when my brother Chris told me that he was going to cycle from London to Paris to raise money for Bloodwise. I was very humbled and grateful to learn that he would be joined by four of his work colleagues from Johnsons Apparelmaster.

In June 2014, still very much recovering from my stem-cell transplant that I’d had at the start of the year, I followed their exploits via social media, lying on a sofa. So in 2015 I was absolutely determined to be involved, especially as the group had grown in size, and was going to include our big brother, and MAMIL-in-training, John.
I headed to Blackheath the evening before they set off. It was lovely to catch up with everyone, and to meet the rest of the team. What a great bunch of people! I knew they would be in for an unforgettable experience, and as Chris’ work colleague Tony kept reminding me “This is all your fault, you know!”

It was a privilege to be there at the “grand depart”. It was an emotional sight, watching all 250 riders set off for Paris. While the cyclist made their way out of London and through Kent, I headed home to complete my own mammoth challenge: packing for a family trip to France! As the peloton rode through wind, rain and occasional bouts of sunshine, we took the easy route – Eurostar. After a minor detour to Disneyland, Sunday afternoon found my husband, our then 4 year old daughter and me, waiting with all the other family members and supporters. It was a fantastic atmosphere: the excitement was palpable.

With the Eiffel Tower dominating the background, anticipation rose as we heard the various countdowns “they’re at the Arc de Triomphe!”, “5 minutes away!”, “they’re here!”. The riders poured into the stadium, some visibly rocked with emotion by what they had just achieved. Bikes were ditched and arms were flung round each other in celebration. We searched for Chris and John. There they were! Hugs all round. Photos and lots of beer! It was tremendous. What a feeling just to watch them finish; I can only imagine what it meant to those who took part.

The London to Paris bike ride will always hold a special place in my heart. I am immensely grateful that these cycling heroes willingly give up their time, money and dress themselves in Lycra to support people like me and many others who have been affected by blood cancer. In addition, back in 2014 the bike ride represented a huge turning point for me in my fight back to health.

Several months after my stem cell transplant, I was at a very low point both physically and psychologically. I didn’t feel like I was getting any better, in fact, I often felt I was going backwards. Both Chris, and John (who had gone to Paris to cheer in Chris for his first L | P), came back from France with stories of some of the cyclists they had got to know. Many of their fellow riders had fought their own battles with blood cancer. They had faced similar difficulties to the ones I was facing. And yet there they were, a few years later, cycling 500 kilometres to Paris. What more inspiration could I need? 

Thank you so much to all our cycling fundraisers. “Chapeau!” and good luck for London to Paris, 2016!

Comments

Eleanor Baggley
15.09.2016

This is such a lovely blog, Gill. Thank you for sharing your history and experiences of L2P - I'm so pleased it's had such a positive effect on you. I can only imagine how it must have felt to be stood at the finish line as they all cycled in - a hugely emotional, but fantatsic moment I'm sure. How are you recovering now - all well I hope? All my best wishes to you and your family. Eleanor