There are just four days to go until Team Revitalise take on this year’s Prudential Ride London. Our latest blog shares the heartwarming story of Martyn Eggleton, who is ready to make tracks in support of our charity on Sunday. In his own words, Martyn explains his reasons for participating in this year’s challenge and his experience so far…
Written by Martyn Eggleton
Hi! I’m Martyn, a forty-year-old, two meter tall computing skills trainer from Sheffield. I’m currently recovering from a head injury and I’m a bit prone to sitting at a keyboard and programming when it is sunny outside. These facts together could be summarised as old, fat and slow. But not anymore…
Setting my wheels in motion
I enjoyed running when I was younger and my Dad ran a marathon when I was a kid so a marathon was on my ‘bucket list’. For five years I worked organising the London Marathon Expo (the place where runners register), so the London Marathon was going to be my target. Soon after I stopped doing the Expo, my doctor told me that it was my running that was triggering the problems I was having with my sciatic nerve, so I had to give that up 🙁
It wasn’t until my son, who has Cerebral Palsy, started riding a trike at a local cycling centre six years ago that I couldn’t keep up with him. So, one afternoon I borrowed a bike and was taught how to ride. When Ride London first began I had a vague thought that I might give it a go, but Sheffield seemed like it was all hills and traffic, so I never got going properly.
That was until April this year, when I saw Revitalise appealing for people to take on a 100-mile bike ride at this year’s Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100. I follow Revitalise on Facebook because I volunteered with them over two decades ago when they were then known as ‘The Winged Fellowship’.
Memories of my time as a volunteer
I spent a few weeks over the years volunteering at Sandpipers, the charity’s respite holiday centre in Southport. They provide a real holiday experience for disabled people and carers and it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Still after 24 years, I remember the smile of Mary, who I worked with during my second year. She had been the sole carer for her husband who had Alzheimer’s for a long time, and their visit to Sandpipers was her first break in over five years. I got such joy from helping them to make new, fun memories together and it was wonderful.
Getting back into contact
When the chance to help by doing something I was already interested in doing came up, I was on the phone straight away. The only issue being, I wasn’t really keeping up with riding my bike. A few weeks before, it was a nice sunny day and I’d decided to ride my bike between the two schools where I work a few times. I’d only managed 30 miles in six months, according to my tracking app, so I thought about doing Ride London in 2018. I spoke to Revitalise’s Events Team and decided to take three weeks to see if it was doable this year, as at the time I had sixteen weeks to go!
Soon enough I had rode to Conisbrough and back in a day, roughly 50 miles of off road trails, and decided I could give it a good go. So I found a 16 week training plan and started. Since April, I’ve taken road lessons and got used to riding on the road, brought lots of lycra, learned to love energy gels and practised enough yoga to fall over a lot!
I was making good progress, but eight weeks in the Ride London magazine arrived, scaring me with rules and etiquette guides and training plans and hints and tips, and – basically a huge new set of things to read and absorb into my plans and practice. One good thing is that it did introduce me to the idea of recovery weeks, which I really needed by then!
Then one day I had a bright idea to ride to Sandpipers for some photos and to look around at all the new facilities they have. My dad accompanied me and rode 75 miles in the wet (have I mentioned that my dad is ace and I couldn’t have done any of this without him!). When we arrived, it was great to see exactly the same care, love and joy around the place as was there was when I was there in the 90s. The army of volunteers, the staff and the guests make the place utterly wonderful.
My new bike came next, one that fits me and has racing handlebars. It has been a massive learning curve but is so much faster! The weather was hot at the time and school became really busy so I was flagging a bit and my wrist and shoulders began to hurt because of the new riding position. Despite all of that, I still managed to ride 75 miles in one go to York.
I’ve had some hard days but I’m in my final few days before the ride and I’ve done well over 1,200 miles of training! The 16% hills still stop me, but I have checked and there won’t be any of those in Surrey, and thankfully no traffic will be on the road either!
My reasons for making a difference
I’m so happy I decided to do this, I’m fitter than I have been since Uni, I’m adoring the views around Yorkshire and I’ve seen grass snakes, buzzards, water voles and a million rabbits along the way too. Most of all, I’m massively grateful to have an opportunity to once again help all those who Revitalise support and to give great holidays to those who need them.
If you are able, I’d love it if you could support me. Thank you.