I first heard of London to Paris only a few days after I started at Bloodwise. I was invited along to the Sports Awards, where I felt an instant sense of community. There is no debate that giving yourself a challenge, whether it’s running a 5 km, a marathon, organising a walk or an event or cycling from London to Paris. There is a certain level of achievement, purpose and support that comes alongside - a group of individuals collectively striving towards one goal.
While at the Sports Awards I met quite a few L2P riders, including some Ambassadors, and immediately I got the sense that this event was something special. Carried away in the excitement and motivation, I quickly found myself saying I would consider riding with them for 2018. With lack of funds and access to a bike (an excuse I could have easily overcome), the prospect of participating soon fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until Matt asked me to help out with the fundraising videos for the event that the ride came back on my radar. I knew at this stage participating wasn’t in the cards; however I volunteered to help out with the ride and thankfully, Matt agreed to let me into the L2P crew.
Right from the start at Eltham Palace I felt that same dedication, excitement and motivation that I saw that night at Sports Awards. Beyond reading my crew pack, as a newbie, I was most certainly clueless as to how it all went. However, it quickly became very clear that, that wouldn’t really be an issue. With so many returning riders and a crew that new the insides and outs of the event- it all seemed to run like clockwork. As the first day progressed I realised that when new riders would come to me with a question, which I most likely did not know the answer to, I didn’t have to look far for the answer, there was no doubt someone just next to me who’s second, third or fourth plus ride this was. This event was the definition of team work.
As the days went on, I continued to see this theme as a constant. Team work to complete the daily cycle- from the riders, the ride captains, the mechanics, the physios. Team work from the crew to make sure it all ran smoothly (or appeared to). Team work from every single person to support one another. Some old friends, some complete strangers, but there was no shortage of comradery. It wasn’t just the crew that ran this event, but it was every single person who was there with an answer, a helping hand, a piece of support, a joke to lighten the mood- the list goes on. It seems a simple thing, however how often are we a part of something- especially a sporting event- where people are 100% willing to offer their help to others, even if it jeopardizes a goal they might be working towards. I found every person (that I encountered at least) was there as a contributor to the event.
This event; the funds it raises, the support it provides and the hope it instils in people is invaluable. Although every person on the ride has their own story; riding for themselves, riding for someone they’ve lost, riding for someone affected, riding for the accomplishment- it brings all of these stories together and makes something as hideous and all-consuming as blood cancer, bearable. I don’t think a lot of people can begin to imagine what it is like going through a blood cancer experience, just as people cannot know what it is like to lose someone and grieve the loss of life. However, after this event, these people come a little closer to understanding what it’s like to have this disease be a part of your life. And to others- the people it has affected, it offers a lifeline, an avenue and community of inspiration and opportunity.
Taking adversity and turning it into opportunity is what this group of individuals have done- it is what all of you as Ambassadors do every day. Diseases like blood cancer, and so many others, can take so much away from you; confidence, love, ambition, family members, friends, time- it is events like these that give something back to you. Like minded individuals that turn into a family- a crew that brings a bright side of blood cancer. It is emotionally and physically exhausting surrounding yourself in something that carries so much emotion, but it proves to us just how resilient we are as individuals and our capacity to overcome obstacles.
Now I feel this blog has taken a turn to preach town so I will wrap things up here. A long way of expressing my gratitude to those who set events like these up and make them possible, the people who are brave enough to take them on, those that sponsor and support them and the determined individuals who encourage (push) others to take part in something out of their comfort zone- kudos!