I got involved with Leukaemia Care after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 2000. I remember the doctor saying to me, “You’re one of the lucky ones, if you are to be diagnosed with some form of leukaemia, we’ve got a revolutionary drug that’s just started.” It was STI-571, which is better known today as imatinib or Glivec, and he asked if I would like to be a guinea pig.
I said yes, and it was a sort of roller coaster from there. I was one of the first 40 people to go on it in the UK, and then I was monitored by a hospital in Seattle. I got through my treatment first and, once the treatment had sort of kicked in quite successfully, I then started fundraising for leukaemia and giving money to the hospital.
I’ve now taken part in RideLondon four times for Leukaemia Care. I remember I got hold of one of Leukaemia Care’s magazines through the post that talked about the event, and I just happened to know a couple of guys who were into riding. I rang up on their behalf and I had Clare in fundraising saying, “Would you like to do it?” and I went no.
A friend of mine said, “Well, if you take it easy, and don’t break any world records, I’m sure you’d be able to do it.” I went, “Well, okay, I might give it a go.” And that’s what I do. Throughout the year I take my time sorting and practicing for this one event every year up till now. I just take it easy, don’t go out and break any world records, and enjoy myself on the day. I take my time and don’t put pressure on myself; I start when I start and I finish when I finish.
What I’ve enjoyed most about it all is speaking to Clare; she’s so positive and good at talking to people. My wife says not to do it anymore, but listening to other riders now when you’re in that circle, 100 miles is not an awful lot to many of them. It’s not a great achievement anymore when you’re within a circle of riders, so outside of it 100 miles looks a long way but to cyclists and athletes it’s not a huge amount.
I used to do running before I was diagnosed with leukaemia, but then I sort of left it all alone to be honest with you. I now do cycling to keep me fit, to a degree.
For the last couple of years, I haven’t asked anyone for donations at all. I put my money into the pot and just leave everybody alone. I had a team of people I did it with first. I then did it with my wife second year, the other guys last year and then did it on my own. And, God willing, I’ll do it for myself next year as well.