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It is difficult to put into words the debt of gratitude I feel towards all of my family, friends and community for the tremendous support I have had not just in the last few very difficult days but also over the last few weeks and months.

Earlier this year my brother Bhagwant who had been very ill for several years passed away peacefully and last Tuesday my brother in law collapsed and died suddenly of a massive heart attack. During times like these it is impossible to focus on your own needs and if it wasn’t for the understanding and encouragement of my family I would have found it difficult.

So when I am struggling to get up those mountains I will have the good wishes of so many people urging me on and I will have my departed brother and brother in law by my side. And lets not forget the struggle that Val went through her two cancers and subsequent eight operations and chemotherapy. Compared to what she had to face my pain would be insignificant. To Val and my family I would dedicate this ride, and to   other family members too who have been through so much. This ride is also for others that I have met both as a doctor and as a friend who have been through their own battles. One aspect of doing this challenge has been that people from a long time ago have got in touch and brought back many memories. Some of them so poignant that it has made me even more determined to push myself through sometimes gruelling training.

Finally I am ready to embark on a challenge of my life which is going to take me out of my comfort zone and test my ageing body to its limits. I have cycled miles through all weathers, up hills and down valleys, discovered parts of Great Britain that I have never been to before, including areas of outstanding beauty in my own backyard. I have spent hours on my Wattbike. I have eaten very sensibly and practically given up alcohol. I have lost nearly 2 stone in weight. My current weight is 169.8 pounds. My BP is like that of a teenager – 110/70 with a pulse of 52 – figures that I can be so proud of. I don’t think I could have done any more. The Alps await!

To motivate myself I have been writing this weekly blog and joined the social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In doing so I have met some wonderful people online as well as out cycling with the Hope group. I have tried to inspire others to a healthy way of life and to think of cancer prevention along the way. I have learned so much myself too from others.

Alfie, my trusted steed was packed off to Geneva on Tuesday and I have today packed all my gear. Its amazing how much needs to be packed to cater for wet weather, hot weather, fog and freezing cold. Hope Vélo and the team organising this challenge especially Tim Hughes have been outstanding. I am looking forward to riding with international rugby legend Martin Johnson CBE and his wingman at Leicester Tigers Derek Jelley, and also new friends I have made especially Mark, Sarah, Claire and Angela.

Below are some of the pictures from the build up to the departure of the support lorry provided by Brindley’s Transport and three appropriately coloured and bedecked Minis supplied by Sytner BMW franchise.

The Italian Job

The Italian Job

Fellow riders Derek Jelley (former Leicester Tigers rugby star) and Angela Stewart my number one fan!

Fellow riders Derek Jelley (former Leicester Tigers rugby star) and Angela Stewart my number one fan!

Send off in style at Livio's Italian Restaurant in Shepshed.

Send off in style at Livio’s Italian Restaurant in Shepshed.

Finally we have had great news – my colleague Dr Bryony Barfield delivered a healthy baby girl Elodie 4 weeks early after very dedicated care and monitoring at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Both mum and baby are doing well. Such good news puts all our lives into perspective – this is the cycle of life.

A bundle of joy - Elodie. xxx The cycle of life starting all over again.

A bundle of joy – Elodie. xxx
The cycle of life starting all over again.

Next blog, all being well, will be from Èvian-les-Bains tomorrow evening. I am grateful for all the donations that are still coming in. Here are all the different ways that you can sponsor me and make that big difference:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Hopesitalianjob

http://www.justgiving.com/guru-singh2

text GURU67 with £amount (from £1 to £10) to 70070

Sponsorship forms are at Charnwood Pharmacy, Bloomin’ Marvellous, Dilip’s Multi Store, The Black Swan, The Crown, Ryatt’s Optometrist, Hall Croft Opticians, Janine Soars hairdresser at “Sheardesire” in Hall Croft, Rosebery Medical Centre, Rosebery Pharmacy, Forest Edge and Outwoods Surgeries, Bridge Street Medical Centre and Pedal Power in Loughborough. Don’t forget Livio of Livio’s Italian Restaurant is also collecting a voluntary £1 donation from his diners and promising to match it. The Black Swan is also raffling some quality wine donated by Naked Wines

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org – if you would like to follow the progress of all the riders each day – log on to this website and click on the Events section on the left hand side and follow the links.