So, our ‘not-so-Grand Depart’ from Blackheath to the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday 29 July is nearly upon us and I can’t wait to get on with it! Since January this year I have spent more than 90 hours in the saddle and pedalled over 1,033 miles (1,663 km) – I have neglected my family and friends, become obsessed with padded lycra corsetry and cajoled everyone who crosses my path into donating money to help cure blood cancer through Anthony Nolan.
My old friend and fellow 50-year-old, Alli – #1 Wheeler & Heeler and queen of the hills – is bound together with meters of masking tape and slathered with embrocation to get her to the start line. Angie – #2 W&H – has not been so fortunate, but will ride with us in spirit. Her L2P journey was snuffed out by an Aston Martin driver who knocked her off her bike and drove off, leaving her with a broken arm and no chance to cycle with us.
I have learnt so much whilst preparing for L2P – some are simple, cycling things; others more complex and related to stem-cell donation, but most of all, I have learned how amazingly generous and supportive people can be. From neighbours who are curious about why I’m always on my bike – to work colleagues, students and friends who ask how my training is going – and even my son’s former housemaster, now living in Australia, keeps an eye on my progress via Twitter. It astounds me and redoubles my determination to pull this off…
Alli and I are funding our participation in the Discover Adventure London to Paris challenge ourselves. This means that every single penny or euro that we are given by others, goes straight to Anthony Nolan and helps to support their work. Their stem cell donor register was responsible for matching The Ninja (Alli’s not-so-very ‘old man’) with a German donor whose shiny new cells have given him an extended lease of life … in the very truest sense of the phrase. Unthinkable just over two years ago, when the Ninja was med-evac’d out of Afghanistan and given a 3-week prognosis – thank goodness for science and Anthony Nolan, he is Alli’s PBT (Personal Bike Trainer) and top bloke, mate, colleague, dad and my friend.
We ‘3-old birds on bikes’ set ourselves a pretty big target to raise £10,000 for Anthony Nolan and because of many, many kind, generous friends and family, and despite a diabolical exchange rate we have DONE IT! If you still feel moved to support us, please follow this link and put something in our ‘bucket’ https://www.justgiving.com/Sallie-Taylor/ or better still, if you are between 18-30 years of age, please contact Anthony Nolan and find out how to join their donor register. To find out how to donate in The Netherlands contact Europ Donor or elsewhere in the world, have a look at Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide
I am unlikely to deliver an Oscar winner’s speech, so want to thank a number of amazing people who have egged me on: my lead training buddy – Gill Gardner (fuelled by plant-based petrol and always in front!), uber-physio and kryptonite-thumbed Homme Rodenhuis at Sportfysioleiden (adviser on all things cycling and hills), Jane Wharton, who lent me her home for the W&H Fundraiser and should really be riding L2P on her new bike (as her husband, Mark said: “she definitely has the engine for cycling!”), my colleagues at The BSN who must be heartily sick of hearing about all things bike, and the countless friends and family who have helped me sell raffle tickets, made tea, coffee, cakes, manned a stall or donated things for the W&H fundraiser.
Enduring thanks go to Tim and the boys who have patiently indulged my lycra-clad lunacy – its tough for a teen to watch his sweaty, mother arrive home after a ride and not silently wish she was a bee keeper, or something involving more clothes!
… and of course, as this is my ‘Oscar-winners speech’, it wouldn’t be complete without thanking my Mum who keeps trying to pay me NOT to do it!