In the first in a series of blogs from the "Pete Nertney’s Bloody Bikes Challenge" team, one of the riders, Chris Glynne, shares the story behind the event and why 15 ex-rugby players decided to swap tries for tyres...
Many of you reading this will have lost a close friend or family member and it's tough to know how to remember that special person. To us a ridiculous challenge was the only way to remember our friend Pete Nertney and hopefully raise enough money to make a difference to others who suffer from blood diseases.
The challenge is to ride from Aachen in Germany to Bromley, South London, in 3.5 days. This may not seem magnificently hard but we are 16 overweight (technically obese) ex rugby players who haven't been on a bike in over a decade. In fact to be more specific we are ex-‘social-rugby’ types. That means that although we loved our rugby we extracted considerably more enjoyment from the post-match festivities in the bar.
An Anglo-German contingent are riding in memory of our buddy to: celebrate friendship, to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and to raise funds for our Rugby Clubs.
Pete spent his early adult life in Aachen playing for the town side and subsequently returned to Bromley where he played for the Old Dunstonian Rugby Club. He was one of those ‘larger than life’ guys at the front of the scrum, many of the rest of us played in supposedly more agile and mobile positions – though our weight often spoke to the contrary.
Pete was a fun-loving, easy-going and a true gentleman. He was prepared to help a pal in any way and had a superb way of staying in touch with people – he was a ‘true friend’. In the New Year of 2011 he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia from completely out of the blue. He went through many months of Chemo and Radiotherapy and had his bone marrow transplant, which put him into remission for a few months. However, he suffered from a form of immune rejection known as Graft versus Host disease (GVHD) and after several more months, of the doctors trying to control this, it was discovered that he had developed lymphoma. Very sadly he died just a couple of weeks later on 12th December 2011.
You might imagine how daunting our cycle challenge feels when it’s a struggle for some of us to ride up some of the Kentish hills without feeling like crying. This amount of time and miles on a saddle is very much pushing the bounds of our physiology, psychology and perhaps even the laws of physics. Some days it seems unachievable… but then if it was easy it wouldn’t be a very fitting tribute.
No doubt we will be cursing as we struggle on the ride come September. We are riding for a charity whose aim is ‘beating blood cancers’. It seemed only fitting, therefore, that we should name our ride “Pete Nertney’s Bloody Bikes Challenge”.
Follow our progress, here and on Facebook, over the next 10 weeks as we prepare for the ride of our lives. If you would like to support us then please spread the word and follow our antics, and follow this link to sponsor.
Photos courtesy of Chas Maslin.