Lands End to John O'Groats
It was 22nd April 2014, and we'd tied Neil's shoe laces and helped him on to the saddle of his bike as he commenced his mammoth 600 mile static bike ride challenge. It didn't take long for him to 'ting' the bell, signalling the achievement of his first mile!
This became a regular sound heard by the Vines family, as Neil completed mile after mile. It was an incredible sight to see Neil have the self-motivation to take himself to the garage each day, demonstrating unbelievable perseverance. Neil was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time; it was only 9 months earlier that he had taught himself to walk again.
Neil was unstoppable. He was an all weather cyclist, from the cold mornings when he’d be wearing his wooly hat and coat, to during the intense summer heatwave where he would be cycling with the fan turned up, Neil never once had an excuse for not cycling. As a family we had to persuade him to take some rest days.
Bearing in mind that Neil had been re-diagnosed with a second brain tumour in November 2013 and as he was receiving chemotherapy, we as a family often wanted to "wrap him up in cotton wool” and dissuade him from doing too much, it seemed sensible to us that he should be resting and allowing the drugs to do their work. Neil however could not be told and his stubbornness prevailed - despite the drowsy medication he cycled every day. The amount he rode increased from one mile up to 20 per day! Neil’s drive was inspiring.
Neil went to great efforts to summon support for his charity bike ride. Out of his own choosing Neil contacted the Teenage Cancer Trust for assistance in promoting his story and they kindly supplied him with a cycling Jersey. Neil then contacted the local paper who took photos and published them alongside an article that was released to the media. Neil also created a video which demonstrated the struggles he had endured; this showcased his determination to succeed and was used to further promote his challenge.
We kept a track of Neil's progress over the 600 miles on a white board in the garage. Each day Neil would write up how many miles he had ridden. Towards the start of the challenge, Neil found the distance daunting, however the white board served its purpose as a motivator and a place where we could write inspiring quotes to keep him going.
You can read more about Neil’s Lands End to John O’Groats challenge in his memoir, Powerful Beyond Measure.