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Last Sunday was our group ride and this time we started from The Watermead Country Park and rode through the north-eastern part of the county going through the picturesque Vale of Belvoir – a total of 75 miles and a fair bit of climbing.

Part of our group riding past Belvoir Castle.

Part of our group riding past Belvoir Castle.

The highlight of these group rides is the cake stop halfway around the course to replenish body glycogen stores – essential when you are burning upwards of three thousand calories. Hope is the only charity that I know of that organises these rides complete with refreshment stops. Can’t wait for the next ride on 5th July.

The busy bees - Vicky, Louise and Sally looking after some very famished cyclists. Steve, Will and Ian also great helpers but not in the picture.

The busy bees – Vicky, Louise and Sally looking after some very famished cyclists. Steve, Will and Ian also great helpers but not in the picture.

Organising a group ride is not easy. First of all you need support riders preferably two to each sub-group. There are usually 9-10 riders in each sub-group. Secondly the leader has to not only choose a suitable ride incorporating hills but also to recce the route beforehand.

During the ride the support riders have to shepherd us lot into a disciplined peloton and to keep us safe from impatient motorists and hazards on the road like potholes and street furniture. Not an easy job.

The ride itself is a lesson in group riding – wheel to wheel, highways discipline, how to tackle long climbs and equally overcome the fear of steep descents. For novices like me often descending is harder than climbing.

Heartfelt thanks go out to Time Hughes, our leader and to Alex Meadows and Sam Puntrello and all the other support riders in the other groups. Without all of you this cycling challenge would not be possible. You make this team!

Tim Hughes and partner Angela Stewart modelling cycling gear for ITP Events.

Tim Hughes and partner Angela Stewart modelling cycling gear for ITP Events.

Finally we must not forget that each and everyone of us is involved in this cycling challenge to raise awareness of and funds for Hope Against Cancer working in the University Hospitals of Leicester to promote cancer research. To read more about this important charity’s vital work and find out how you can personally get involved go to its website – www.hfcr.org

My own fundraising continues to increase and currently stands at just over £3,400 – if you would like to donate please visit my sponsorship page on http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/hopesitalianjob Every pound you give goes directly into cancer research and in providing a dedicated Cancer Unit and Cancer care nurse at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

One of the biggest advantages of having such a centre of excellence in our local hospitals is that it attracts the best brains to our area. In the 10 plus years that Hope Against Cancer has been involved, the rates of cancer detection and survival have gone from one of the worst in the country to one of the best. As at least one in two of us has the likelihood of developing cancer at some stage in our lives we have a direct stake in the success of this charity and our local cancer care.

In the media I came across this interesting article which gives a fairly balanced view on the role of herbal medicine. My attention to this was drawn because Hope is sponsoring research which is at an exciting stage into the cancer prevention and curative properties in bowel cancer of curcumin an active ingredient in turmeric, used in Indian cooking.

Next Sunday we have the inaugural ride of Shepshed Cycling Club – so wait for some news and pictures of this in next week’s blog.

I am extremely grateful to Livio of Livio’s Italian Restaurant in Shepshed for supporting my fund raising. Every customer will be asked for a voluntary donation of one pound throughout summer and Livio will match each donation pound for pound. Early booking advised!

I wonder how many of you saw Bradley Wiggins smash the UCI world one hour record last Sunday. After a long day in the saddle for me it was a perfect ending to see my hero triumph! I shall leave you with this picture of a beaming Bradley!

My hero - the ultimate athlete!

My hero – the ultimate athlete!