With a combined age of 303, you’d be forgiven for thinking that six cyclists might enjoy putting their feet up. This team of six, calling themselves Bums on Bikes, are tackling the Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle challenge, covering 1,000 miles and climbing the height of Mt Everest in 12 days. They have also pledged to raise more than £100,000 for the charity Bowel & Cancer Research.
Leading the pack between June 10 and 22 is bowel cancer survivor Paul Reynolds, 53, who is also the chair of the charity.
“Age is no barrier when you have a mission in mind,” he said.
His team consists of investment specialist Julian Cripps, 54, charities director Charles Mesquita, 53, GP William Ridsdill Smith, 49, investment officer Ian Prideaux, 61, and osteopath Doug Tannahill, just 33.
Paul Reynolds and Julian Cripps before they head out to train
All have their own reason for taking part.
For Paul, it was personal. The investment specialist took up cycling in 2009 after a year of successful treatment for bowel cancer and fell in love with the sport. He has since taken part in cycle challenges all over the world including the Ride London twice and the beautiful Cape Argus cycle ride in South Africa. The Bums on Bikes challenge marks the 10th anniversary of his diagnosis of stage 3 bowel cancer when he was aged 42.
“I was one of the lucky ones. I’m only here today because of the significant research and resulting advances in medicine and surgery over the 20 years leading up to my diagnosis. I owe a huge debt to all the scientists responsible and the people who financed them,” he said.
“I’m passionate about the need to raise awareness of bowel cancer and other bowel diseases. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer affecting one in 18 people. But unfortunately there isn’t enough funding for research in this area.”
Charles Mesquita commuted by bike in London for 30 years. He took up long-distance challenges in 2012 after cycling 700 miles with five dads from his son’s school in Suffolk and raising £50,000 for Bowel & Cancer Research. He is now a trustee of the charity.
Osteopath Doug has only been cycling for 10 months. He is proud to be using the bicycle of a former bowel cancer patient at his clinic, Chris Seery. Chris was determined to organise and ride from John O’Groats to Brandeston in Suffolk in 2012 but was sadly too ill and passed away in August 2012.
“I am honoured to be able to take his bike to make the ride for the charity that meant so much to him,” he said.
For GP William Ridsdill Smith bikes have been a lifelong passion. He cycles three miles to his village surgery every day and occasionally visits his patients by bike.
“As a GP I see patients with bowel problems on a daily basis. The physical and psychological impact is huge on our daily lives. What better cause to be cycling for?” he said.
The Bums on Bikes team has secured support from sponsors including Fundsmith, Eaton Vance Investment Management, Landsowne Partners, Delancey, JO Hambro Capital Management Group, Sandaire, Blue Sky Luxury, Thesis Asset Management and Coller Capital. Chief Executive of Bowel & Cancer Research Deborah Gilbert thanked the Bums on Bikes for their support. “Our mission is to ensure that no one should die of bowel cancer in future and we can only do that with the help of our fantastic fundraisers,” she said.
“I am always amazed at the lengths to which people will go when they have a passion for the cause. We will use the funds to support the best UK science working towards a day when everyone diagnosed will survive the disease.”
Anyone who wants to support Bums on Bikes can do so at https://www.bumsonbikes.org/