Taking a challenge – cycling for research into suicide
by Vanessa Pinfold
On Sunday 31st July I got up very early – 4.45am – and cycled to the train station to start my Ride London-Surrey Prudential challenge. Getting to the start line was quite an effort as I live in West London and it started in Stratford over to the east. But it was worth it when at about 8.30am we were launched into 100 miles of road cycling, hurtling through the roads of London as fast as possible. Apparently 26,000 rode the course ahead of the elite race with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. It was a great privilege to be riding without cars, and much easier than the training rides I had done negotiating traffic lights, motor bikes, lorries, buses and the like. I was proudly wearing the McPin Foundation cycling top promoting our cause – riding for mental health research.
Also I wasn’t alone. This year we had a team of six cyclists raising money for us in Ride London, and between us we have raised about £5,300. This is fantastic. And it is going to be used to part fund a PhD studentship award in the memory of Gwyneth Jones who lost her life through suicide August 2015. Suicide takes over 6000 lives a year in the UK. Funding research is one way to address suicide and mental health more generally – better solutions, more understanding, and preventative strategies.
I was really emotional cycling up the Mall. Having completed the challenge I was exhausted and also pleased to be championing a cause that is so dear to me. There were a few problems en route including delays because of accidents and congestion, but no punctures and the opportunity to meet lots of very interesting people. Most participants riding around me were doing so for a charity and its cause.
I definitely recommend it – and do get in touch if you fancy joining our Ride London team for 2017. It’s never too early to start training! That is something that really surprised me. How enjoyable cycling is and how good for you. I feel fitter than I have done in a long while! And it is good for managing stress and worries. The public ballot is open for next year if you want to apply yourself.
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