In under a month the AKU Society Team, and a group of supporters, will be cycling 70 miles from London to Cambridge to raise some much needed funds. In this week’s blog, Lesley, our Patient Support Manager, tells us how she first committed to the challenge, and how her training has been going so far.

Yes, I’ll Do That

I arrived in the office one morning back in April and found myself saying ‘yes I’ll do that’. I immediately felt a sudden surge of panic – what had I let myself in for? After the initial shock I realised I’d agreed to cycle 240 miles from Cambridge to Liverpool over 3 days (our initial plan!).

At this point I didn’t have a bike of my own, and my daughter wasn’t keen for me to borrow her specialist triathlon bike, set up specifically for her use. Other than cycling for leisure, the last time I’d done any serious cycling was back in my school and college days when I was a member of the local club, Witham Wheelers.

As a teenager I was very sporty and athletic. I played hockey and netball for my school, was a member of my local swimming and athletics club, and competed in a squash league. I took up running (or rather ‘jogging’) as an adult, and used this to keep me fit in preparation for when I joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Unfortunately, in 1993 I became ill with pneumonia, pleurisy and TB, and since then have really struggled with my fitness; especially running.  This proposed bike ride reignited my long lost passion for cycling and motivated me to try and get fit again.

Back on the Bike

My first action was to buy a new bike. I knew the model I wanted and after some extensive research got myself a great deal from a shop in South Wales. On the day it arrived I was like a child on Christmas morning!

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My home village is located in a quiet part of Cambridgeshire surrounded by many country roads; the ideal setting for training. A fairly flat county with the odd undulating hill (if you can call them hills) to challenge my stamina and ability. My first ride was hard going, and sitting on the saddle for any length of time was not comfortable. I had to get used to being on a bike again, and was feeling muscles I hadn’t felt for some time!

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I started cycling regularly, both in the evenings after work (10-13 miles), and at the weekends (up to 25 miles). If the weather was bad I could set the bike up in the conservatory on my daughters ‘turbo trainer’ and cycle away whilst watching TV!

A Route Diversion
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I was quietly relieved when the team made a joint decision to change the plans for the ride. It was agreed a 3 day ride to Liverpool would not only be expensive with the cost of overnight accommodation, but also covering such a large distance in just 3 days would be challenging.

The route will now be from London to Cambridge, starting at The Royal College of Physicians where Archibald Garrod gave his lectures when he first discovered AKU in 1902. We will approach Cambridge along the DNA trail cycle path, go past the AKU Society office, and head towards the

Cavendish building at the University. We will end our ride at the Eagle pub in Cambridge for a well-deserved drink at the celebration site of Francis Crick and James Watson after they discovered the structure of DNA.

I’ve really started to enjoy being out on my bike again after all these years. The only problem I experience is my osteoarthritis, which primarily affects my hands. I discussed the problem with Anna, the Rheumatologist at the NAC, and following her suggestion I now carry a plentiful supply of Ibuprofen gel to rub on my fingers for a cycle. I also wear gloves, even when it’s warm, for comfort and support.

I am already starting to feel the benefits of the exercise and the fresh countryside air, and I feel driven and motivated to continue with cycling as an exercise even beyond the planned ride date. I’m now on annual leave, and will be using some of the time to step up my training. I have a 50 mile practice ride planned at the end of it.

I’m looking forward to the ride in September and just hope I can last the distance. Help us make it all worthwhile by supporting us, and donating on our JustGiving page here. Thank you.