My most favourite thing so far
As my trip draws to a close I’ve had many people ask me what the best thing on my list has been.
My answer without hesitation is Thing #60 – Angelride.
At the end of 2013 I was invited to take part in this ride by an amazing guy called Andy Heaps. Andy had seen my story and challenged me to take part in a bike ride in the states. Angelride is a 140 mile bike ride across the state of Connecticut which raises money for a camp for seriously ill children. Andy wrote to me at a time when my story was getting a lot of press around the world and as a result I was getting a lot of emails which made it difficult to reply to them all. Andy’s email just blew me away and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. He spoke with such passion about this amazing event and its cause that I knew I just had to do it. I agreed to do this year but I suddenly realised I would be in Asia and probably wouldn’t have the funds to do it then so I cut my trip short in South America and flew up from Brazil to the states with three weeks to go before the 2014 Angelride.
He rightly said in his email that the camp Angelride raises money for is everything 101 Things To Do When You Survive is about. It was about fun, inspiring others and letting people know that they are not alone. The Hole in the Wall Gang camp provides a safe place for seriously ill children to go, have fun and be with other children who are going through the same thing as them.
Although, we do need a few blasts of treatment now and then I truly believe that fun and laughter are the best medicine. The mind is the most powerful tool we have so we need to take care of it by remembering what life really is about.
Tests have shown that these kids leave camp with a higher count of disease fighting white blood cells than when they arrive. That’s how powerful these experiences are.
I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer at the camp in the week that children with sickle cell disease were there. I got to see first hand just how much the Hole In The Wall Gang camp does for these kids and it was so lovely to see that it was worth every exhausting second I spent on that bike.
This place is pretty much a hospital disguised as an adventure camp.
Angelride was originally set up to help with the medical costs for one of Lynn’s friends daughters called Angel. Angel not only got better but has just become a nurse. She is an amazing girl.
With Angel all better the Angelride now raises money specifically for the hospital outreach programme of the Hole in Wall Gang camp where they take the fun to kids in hospital who are too sick to go to camp.
A visit from one of these guys will definitely put a smile on any child’s face no matter what they are going through. I have seen first hand what a life of fear can to do a persons health both inside and out and it’s not good. $50 (£25) of your money will ensure a sick child gets a visit from the Hole In Wall Gang.
So why was this my favourite thing?
Anyone who has had chemo will tell you there are a good few moments where you wonder if you’ll ever get your energy back. If you’ll ever be ‘normal’ again. I’ve struggled my whole life with any type of physical excursion so to ride 140 miles over two days with one weeks training was one of the biggest things I’ve ever achieved.
I honestly felt invincible afterwards and in the locker room I asked my big bro to capture that moment with that photo of me with my top off. Although I don’t really have the body to pull off a pose like that I can honesty say at the time I felt like I was strongest person in the world. I was so proud and for days afterwards I felt the best I’ve ever felt.
Although the ride itself was extremely difficult I had the motivation of not only the unwell children I was raising money for but I also had my big brother riding next to me and my beautiful mum waiting for me at the end. It had been a year since I had last seen them both so this was extra special.
Best of all though we’re the people I met whilst I was there. I had flown up from South America to a place where I knew no one at all. I was given a place to stay, food, equipment, the biggest hugs you’ve ever heard of and a bike!
On the ride itself I peddled every inch of the way. A rule my brother and I said I would keep to but even if I had walked up the hills it wouldn’t have mattered. It took me 10 and half hours to complete the first day and I rode into camp with the 24 strong motor support crew behind me beeping their horns and a couple of hundred people to cheer me on at the end. I was exhausted physically but it was my emotions that broke down first and I fell into the arms of lovely Lynn who is organiser of Angelride. They are some of the most wonderful and generous people I have ever met.
Thanks to you guys I managed to raise a total of $5000 for the Hole in the Wall camp and next year I’ll aim to raise even more when I use Angelride as the start of my challenge to cycle across the USA unsupported. (Mum and dad…. I’ll explain more to you about this when I speak to you….I haven’t actually told them about that yet!;)
I can’t make this year’s Angelride as I will still be away but Andy will be there and has created ‘Team 101’ which he and a team of 6 other legends have modified to make it even more challenging. So instead of 140 miles, Team 101 (complete with team 101 kit will cycle 110 miles through the night from upstate New York to Connecticut where Team 101 will meet the rest of the Angel Riders at the Hole In the Wall Gang camp where they will complete the last day together. In total they will cover an overall distance of 250 miles. They have called this modified ride ‘Hills of Hope’. Love it!
It’s an amazing feat and one I hope will inspire others.
Last year I was used as an example of someone who has a few health issues and who had never ridden a bike before giving the ride a shot. This year has again been a very severe winter and as a result many people have not registered for the ride because they feel they haven’t trained enough.
Video of my angelride experience
I made this video for my fellow Angel Riders to hopefully inspire others to register for the ride and to show people what a wonderful cause the Hole in the Wall Gang camp is. In this video I explain why the ride meant so much, along with footage of the ride, my big finish, some of the amazing people I met but more importantly you’ll see footage from the Hole In the Wall Gang camp. This is what it’s all about:-
As I can’t make this year’s ride I promised Team 101 that I’d help them fundraise for this wonderful cause. I would be so grateful if you could sponsor the guys to complete this incredible challenge. I can promise you the money goes directly to providing a very sick child with an unforgettable experience.
You can sponsor them here and also read the reason why they chose the name Team 101.
Thank you so much gang and good luck to Team 101 and all the other legends taking part in Angelride this year.