Cycling to Japan to save lives


02.05.19 at 11:15 am

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We love a challenge here at Yellow Jersey – the bigger and bolder the better – and we especially love a challenge with a good cause behind it. So when we heard about Patrick McIntosh’s latest undertaking, you can bet our ears pricked up.

This weekend, Patrick is setting off on an epic 7,500 mile journey by bike to Japan, to raise vital funds for cancer research. A tough challenge for anyone, but even more so for Patrick given that he himself is a triple cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with bowel, prostate and skin cancer in quick succession in 2012 and had to endure major surgery to remove the affected areas, plus gruelling rounds of follow-up treatment.

“Some people say I’m crazy to want to cycle around the world having survived three cancers,” Patrick says, “but I want to show what’s possible even after a horrible diagnosis and major surgery. Cancer is no longer a death sentence for everyone, and I want to highlight the importance of eating well, doing exercise, staying positive and getting any symptoms checked. But I’m also supporting my local hospice because I recognise that not everyone is as lucky as I have been.”

The route will take him across Europe through the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Finland. Once he reaches Russia, he’ll attempt to cross the vast swathe of land in just 90 days by following the route of the original Trans-Siberian railway all the way from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. He will be riding two bikes – an Orro Gold road bike, and a hybrid bike as a back-up or alternative ride for tough conditions such as the Ural Mountains.

7,500 miles is a long way to travel alone, so Patrick will be accompanied by his friend Glenn, who will be driving a support vehicle where Patrick will eat, sleep and do his laundry! As for finding somewhere to stay each night, the pair are hoping to camp, relying on official sites or getting permission from landowners.

This monster ride is just the beginning of a planned around-the-world trip on his bicycle, which he aims to complete by next year. So once he has arrived in Japan and cycled to Tokyo to cheer on England in September’s Rugby World Cup, Patrick will then carry on to cycle across North America and Iceland on his way back to the UK, visiting all four home nations for good measure before returning home to Surrey.

Having previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and trekked to the South Pole as fundraising challenges following his treatment, he’s not one to shy away from a challenge. Patrick explained that the polar explorer Conrad Dickinson, who accompanied him to the South Pole, has stood out as an inspiration for his upcoming ride.

“He’s not a star cyclist but I learnt an awful lot from him; he’s an ex-SAS soldier who emphasised the power of focus and mental resilience that you need for an effort like this. Very few people have ridden from one end of Russia to the other but my main goal is to use the experience to raise awareness, and having that thought in my head will keep me motivated.”

Despite the intimidating magnitude of the challenge, Patrick is taking a level-headed approach. “Cycling the world is like eating an imaginary elephant,” he told us. “You have to take it one chunk at a time. I’m 62, not getting any younger and have had major cancer surgery, so the main understanding is to ride within my body’s ability – not too fast or too slow. I expect cycling 7,500 miles to Tokyo will be just as hard both mentally and physically as walking to the South Pole, while a very different experience geographically. But I expect it will be easier taking toilet breaks when it’s not minus 50 degrees outside, as it can be in Antarctica!”

The Life Cycle in numbers:

  • May 3rd – 20th September: the dates of the challenge
  • That makes a journey of 139 days (4 months 16 days)
  • A distance of at least 7,192 miles (11,574km)
  • Climbing a total elevation of more than 52,455m
  • Averaging at least 84km per day

On Saturday morning at the start of this journey, friends and well-wishers will be joining Patrick on a group ride from Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby, and there are still some spaces left if you would like to join in and show your support – you can register here. You can also support Patrick by donating via his fundraising page and keeping up with his progress on Twitter using the hashtag #LifeCycle. We will certainly be following his travels closely – good luck, Patrick!



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