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Hi, I’m Derek from England and that’s me above sat on top of Haystacks (Alfred Wainright’s final resting place) in the English Lake District. In October 2012 after being told my cancer had returned, I made the life changing decision to finally fulfill my dream of cycling round the world and sold everything I had to pay bills and then fund the trip. What’s remarkable is it was never planned, It took me just 3 weeks to prepare and execute and I left England on the 12th November 2012.
‘I’m going to cycle the Pamir Highway, called the ‘Roof of the World’
“Derek I was with you remember when they took away most of your lung and now you have cancer in the other, just how do you propose to breath up there?”
‘I’ll find a way – I always have’
“You’re crazy!, it’s impossible”
‘What would you have me do, sit here and die painfully? I have watched too many loved ones do that. I owe myself and you all more’
“But can you not find an easier challenge?”
‘Ha ha, my whole life has been a challenge, lets make my last one something special!’
I’m certainly not a newcomer to cycling and have always liked the extreme end of the sport. In my mtb days my passion was for long distance routes and I took part in some of the best challenges the sport had to offer, including many Polaris Challenges and the best mtb event by far, the Grand Raid Christalp.
Turning to road biking, I again sought out challenging rides but also dipped my toe in the local time trialing scene, gaining respectable times for the shorter distances of 25 miles (56:40) and 10 miles (22:10). But it was the long distances that excited me; Leeds to Paris and back was ticked off in just 4 days and was one of my first cycling charity rides.
In 2005 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and this was the start of a long battle with the disease, and not for the first time. My racing cycling had to take a back seat, but I ignored the doctors and carried on cycling anyway. I went on to do LEJOG in just 5 days with a superb team for the Race Against Time, a charity supporting the fight against HIV-AIDS in South Africa while in the middle of my treatment. I found it much more beneficial than sitting back and letting the disease take control.
Having lost most of my family to cancer, I also had to endure the pain of losing my wife in 2009 to the disease. I’ve always managed to stay positive around my own illness, but this pushed me over the edge and I started my biggest battle against an illness which is not often spoken of and still hugely misunderstood, depression.
And that’s where we are today, I’m setting off on my tour in the hope of ‘finding myself’ and finally putting the past behind me. Along the way I hope to raise funds for MIND, but also inspire others to show you can enjoy life even with the most debilitating illness. If you’d like to help me, please consider giving a small donation to the charity on my Justgiving page or click on the button below to allow me to continue this amazing journey.
Donating just $5 means I can keep going for another day.