A long day in the saddle and some good news.

The rider Reg who was injured in a dramatic high speed descent yesterday is much better. He has two fractured vertebrae and should be out of hospital soon. The fractures are not unstable and there is no damage to the spinal cord.

Today’s ride started off with a very long and tortuous descent. The weather on the top of the mountain was freezing but the skies were clear.

  
The first part of the descent is on cobbles hence it was a controlled descent with no heroics. Once we got on to the Tarmac after 5 miles, the next 30 miles was exhilarating. The lower down the mountain we came the warmer it got.

The ride itself was very long and tiring – 95 miles with some climbing but not epic.  Many tired legs tonight. So early bed and more tomorrow. 

I am still having problems uploading photos from yesterday and today but the iPad is playing up. 

   
    
 

Tough day in The Alps – Thun to Passo Gottardo

Today was the toughest day of my life. I have never done so much climbing before and that too in adverse weather conditions, with temperatures plummeting and a wind chill of zero degrees C in strong winds. 

The day was also marred with a serious injury when a rider came off on a descent and had to be airlifted to hospital. He has multiple vertebral fractures but his nervous system is intact. He should make a good recovery. Unfortunately as a result of this and the deteriorating weather the course for some of back riders was curtailed by about 10 miles.

Everyone is too knackered and upset at today’s events. 

Tomorrow starts with a tricky descent and then it is relatively flat all the way to Lugano. Till then I was going to leave you with some photos but they don’t seem to have loaded on to the iPad. Hopefully tomorrow.

It is still time to donate to Hope Against Cancer by sponsoring me for this challenge of my life. Please check sponsorship links in previous posts. xxx

Day one

9.30 start from in front of the hotel on the shores of Lac Laussane. 6 groups of 10 riders with each group shepherded by two support riders. Cycling through Switzerland an amazing country with stunning scenery. 

First 20 miles were flat and then the killer long climb of Col du Pillon. An amazingly fast descent after that before another small climb and then the last 30 miles downhill to Thun. 

Quite shattered and it is time for bed after a few stretches and an early start tomorrow at 7.30 for the longest and toughest day in the mountain.

I am certainly overwhelmed by people sponsoring and following me. Your encouragement is very important. Tomorrow I hope that I will not be too shattered for another update. I shall leave you with a few pictures I took today. 

    
    
 

Today is the day!

So here we are – after months of tireless training in just over two hours we will be setting off on our epic ride. 60 cyclists along with 12 support riders will tackle 360 miles over the next 4 days when we set off from Èvian-les-Bains just outside Geneva to Milan in the process climbing 17000 ft. 

As we climb some brutal ascents and come down steep descents we have to focus our minds as to why we are doing this. Collectively we hope to raise £150000 to fund vital ongoing research projects in the University Hospitals of Leicester and to keep the Hope cancer ward operating.

We also need to keep in mind all our loved ones and supporters and ride our hearts out for the dear departed in who’s memories we are all riding. Every rider has a connection and has a story to tell. 

Please keep donating to this worthwhile cause. See previous postings for the various links to donate. You are all in our hearts. Please share this if you can.

Next stop Thun and hopefully another blog.

A massive thank you!

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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.

10 Days to go…

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This time in two weeks I would have finished my Geneva to Milan bike ride and will be ready to get home. The last few months have flown by. I think I have done adequate training, lost weight and feel so much better in myself. My fund raising from all sources has reached £6000 today and I hope will continue to come in as the ultimate aim is to raise £150,000 from this challenge. Currently it is at £45,000.

Many thanks to everyone that donated. It was great to get a message from Professor WP Steward,Head, Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, University of Leicester Hospital Trust

We remain enormously grateful for all the hard work that Hope Against Cancer is undertaking.

The support you have provided has given a springboard to numerous researchers in the terms of developing valuable research projects and leading to subsequent developments. It has also markedly improved the ability to attract good quality staff and increase morale within the academic departments.

It seems to me that you have been highly successful in achieving the aims for the charity which were set out by Allison Wilson at its inception.

Another one from a supporter Ann Myers:

My Dad is on the Hope Ward. On Thursday the 27th of August it’s my mum’s and dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary . They don’t want gifts just money for this wonderful Hope ward. Please it’s not just for old people! It’s for the young too. So please just give as much as you can. My dad wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them. XXX

Messages like these make it all worth the enormous effort so far with even more to come in the next few days.

In terms of training the group had a fantastic 88 mile ride through scenic Leicestershire and managed to get through 4600 ft of climbing – that is the equivalent of first day’s riding in the Alps. All good practice with the difference that in the Alps we have to get up at the crack of Dawn and do another twice more difficult ride! All photos – courtesy of Toby Savage a great local photographer and supporter of hope.

Just reached the cake stop for refuelling!

Just reached the cake stop for refuelling!

Some of my group with support riders

Some of my group with support riders and welcome to Jane – a fellow retired GP from Wiltshire!

Its banana time.

Its banana time.

Tonight we have our meeting to work out the final arrangements and to unveil the official kit for the ride. Then it is a case of a getting everything together and make sure the bike is in good nick before drop off next Monday. It is getting very exciting tinged with some apprehension.

Finally as always – another opportunity for those wishing to donate:

Finally I shall post here all the different ways that you can sponsor me and make that 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.

By clicking on individual businesses you can learn more about them and support them. Thanks.

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org

17 Days to go.

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Last week had flown by very quickly. We had a great family get together and it was lovely to see all but now that everyone has gone back to their respective homes its back to business as far as my training is concerned.

Higher and higher. Great-niece Loveen climbing the magnolia tree!

Higher and higher. Great-niece Loveen climbing the magnolia tree!

Two problems I had to deal with in the past week – one minor and one potentially major. First of all I managed to put on 3 pounds in weight – understandable with so much food lying around and the absence of disciplined cycling. The second one did cause me some consternation but seems to be sorting itself out.

After my previous Sunday’s particularly hilly ride I developed a niggle in my left knee. I initially thought it was a strain of the vastus medialis the big strong muscle on the inside of the thigh – often referred to as a “pear drop” as that’s what it looks like on serious cyclists with serious thigh muscles!

So I decided to take a few days’ rest from cycling and did a fair amount of ice packs  and stretching. By the end of the week it had not settled so I went to see my old friend Rob a local sports physiotherapist who after careful evaluation decided that it was as a result of a very tight ITB or ilio-tibial band. This is the very strong fascia on the lateral side of the thigh that the quads are contained within and its main purpose is to stabilise the knee whilst cycling or running. With age and overuse it can get adhesions to the muscles and can get quite tight (I know this is a very simple explanation but for the purposes of this blog should suffice) and thus tends to put a lateral rotational pull on the knee. As a result it not only pulls on and causes inflammation of the attached retinaculum on the medial side of the knee but also irritates the vastus medialis which then tries to overcompensate to stabilise the knee!

Phew! Anatomy lesson over. So what can one do about it? Treatment of most musculo-skeletal conditions is pretty much the same – stretching exercises to break down the adhesions and try and “lengthen” the ITB. One technique that I have heard of but never actually used is the foam roller treatment. So it was down to a local sports shop – The Running Fox and an investment in this foam roller and back home on YouTube to learn how to use it.

I can easily say that the foam roller has been one of the best investments I have made in recent times. Within two days of using this not only my tight ITB is loosening up but my knee is so much better and I have used the roller on other muscles and on the upper and lower back too. The latter is like having the most wonderful massage. So if you ever are stuck for a present for the sportsperson in your life – get them a foam roller! (No I don’t have any shares in the myriad of companies manufacturing them.) Avoid the expensive ones with fancy ridged appearances. Mine cost £16 – you may get it cheaper online but I like to support the local shops.

To check my knee out I went for a short hilly ride today and am glad to report that the knee has behaved. So I shall have some sessions over the next couple of days on the exercise bike – to rebuild stamina and to try and lose these extra pounds. This Sunday is also the final group ride that we are all looking forward to – 85 miles covering practically every hill in this beautiful county of Leicestershire and Rutland. Then it is going to be tailing off time to the grand départ!

My fund raising has reached £5580.88 and I am very grateful to everyone that has donated to a great cause. If you look at the website of Hope Against Cancer – what I have raised is tiny compared to the annual need of keeping all the research projects going – so please consider donating even if it is only a small amount. If you have already donated consider what you can do more to support this cause. How about rattling the tin at friends, family and work colleagues or organising a coffee morning or a similar fund raising effort? How about even looking behind the settee and under the cushions to see if you can find some loose change?

Giving and fund raising are very personal to each individual. I was stopped by a lady in the street who said she didn’t know me but her daughter died a few years ago from breast cancer and she wanted to donate. We had a little chat and it transpired that if her daughter’s cancer was discovered in current times her chances of survival would have been very good. It is amazing how much research has already gone into cancer and the amazing advances that we all are benefiting from, including Val and our family.

Radiant Val - at the end of her

Radiant Val – at the end of her cancer “journey”. Thanks to all the wonderful doctors and staff at our local hospitals that looked after her. NHS at its best.

Whereas taking on this challenge has meant that I could set personal goals it also meant that I could raise funds for cancer research in our local hospitals – our way of thanks for the care Val received and putting something back into the system.

Finally I shall post here all the different ways that you can sponsor me and make that 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.

By clicking on individual businesses you can learn more about them and support them. Thanks.

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org

24 days to go

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24 days to go to the big ride start. Can’t believe that it was only 8 months ago I signed up for this challenge. How time has passed and what I have achieved in that time.

Whereas I am not quite your finely honed athlete I am much fitter than ever I could have imagined at my age. Having lost all this weight I feel better in myself and feel ready for the trans-Alpine ride.

Last week I told you about the RideLondon 100 and this Sunday I had another fantastic ride – 50 miles but with over 4000ft of climbing. So in the space of 8 days I have ridden the most I ever have and climbed the most I ever have. Unfortunately I forget sometimes that I am testing this ageing frame to its extremes and I have had a brutal reminder of this over the last few days as I have developed a twinge in my left knee. So this week I have done very light cycling and have been applying icepacks and messaging the soft tissues around the knee. Today it had improved enough to go out for a gentle ride with Val – on her super duper new bike and our daughter Hannah who is visiting from Boston.

Val on her new bike and Hannah in the background - cycling along Hallamshire Road - a small track between Shepshed and Belton.

Val on her new bike and Hannah in the background – cycling along Hallamshire Road – a small track in our beautiful countryside between Shepshed and Belton.

Over the next few days its going to be fairly busy as first son-in-law Richard joins us and then son Matt arrives from London. Over the weekend we have a few friends who are joining us for a get together and a BBQ. In between all this I have to fit in some training!

My fund raising is continuing to creep up and it is so lovely to get small and large donations – sometimes from people that I have not seen for ages. I am so grateful for every sponsorship and also to some witty comments – the latest from my old friend Neil Boorman – “physician wheel thyself”!

Today I bumped into another old friend who could single handedly fund the entire research programme by Hope and he has promised to sponsor me too. We had a general discussion regarding giving to good causes and next week I will expand on that but for the moment just say that the giving is not to a person but to a cause. Giving does not have to be big as small amounts soon add up. Giving is also a way of looking at one’s own perspective and decide what one can afford to give and what one can save or forego in order to make a difference to a cause.

Today also marks the start of a marathon effort by a friend Alfonso Jimenez who is cycling from Loughborough to Estepona near Gibraltar in Southern Spain to raise funds for and awareness of Hope Against Cancer. He is hoping to ride 180-190 miles a day to finish the distance in 9 days. To him I will simply say chapeau! Here is his story told in his very sweet way taken from from his Justgiving page (please make an effort to visit his page too and make a donation however small.

I did this charity back three years a go to motivate my brother, that carried a bad cancer disease. It took me 14 days with a lot of obstacles and tough days included a badly injured knee, 40C, strong winds, hills and not any experience in a similar challenge! But along the toughest times I though about my brother and all many others that suffer this disease and it helped me to stain on the bike and push over my limits.

I raised good funds on that time, just at due with the lack of news, many people didn’t know about it and they wouldn’t help as I’m sure they would like to.

Unfortunately, my brother pass away on 2014, but my mind still with those who would need help and have more chances to survive the cancer disease.

This time my ride will be through the same course, but in 9 days! This will be a very serious challenge and I’ll expect a lot of complications. Just thinking about all the people I’ll help with this charity ride will turn sweet any of my worst pains! 🙂

Alfonso Jimenez

Here are the various links you can use to sponsor me:

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.

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org

One month to go

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After the epic RideLondon100 I have plunged straight into a very busy week. Looking forward to a family get-together next week so a lot to do along with serious training. So this week’s blog which is already a day late is going to be very brief.

With only 30 days to go until the challenge time to take stock:

  • Training averaging over a 130 miles a week currently
  • Weight loss so far 26 pounds – just 2 pounds to go to my target
  • Major sportives entered and completed successfully notably the Lincolnshire National Championships and the Prudential RideLondon 100
  • Total raised so far £5055 from all sources but excluding gift aid
  • Started a cycling club in Shepshed
  • Made some wonderful friends from the larger Hope family
  • Learned to ride as a group
  • Inspired others and by others
  • Spread the message of Hope and Hope Against Cancer to my community along with promoting good health through exercise, weight loss and eating healthily.

In my last blog I was hoping to put a link to my coverage in the Leicester Mercury but could not find it. Finally you can click here to see it.

Next few weeks are going to pass very quickly. I hope to continue with my weekly blog and hopefully during the challenge itself do a daily update with a video/picture gallery.

I also hope that sponsorship for the challenge keeps coming in.Here are the various links you can use to sponsor me:

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.

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Doctor-66-set-360-mile-Alps-cycle-cancer-charity/story-27543356-detail/story.html