I cycled almost 4000 km through 13 European countries and regions during the autumn of 2010. My aim was to raise awareness of prostate cancer and raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK. I cycled with Andrew Butcher for the first 2 weeks from Corfu (Greece) to Slovenia, and then continued back to Wales on my own, arriving some 5 weeks later. Oh - and I passed the grand old age of 60 on the way!
Lots of generous people sponsored me during the ride and donated over £ 8000 to Prostate Cancer UK and, since then, over £ 600 has been donated to the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group as well. Many thanks to everyone!
I've given several slideshows since returning and am keen to do more. Please contact me if you're looking for a speaker.
Click on the map or the photos to enlarge them...
I have prostate cancer, a disease which kills 30 men every day in the UK. Prostate Cancer UK helps sufferers like me by providing valuable information and support. It also funds research, some of which has already contributed to the hormone therapy that many of us are undergoing, and it is ultimately striving for a world where men are no longer blighted by this unnecessary disease.
All men are at risk of getting prostate cancer. It's the most common male cancer in the UK, but how many men know its symptoms (sexual and urinary changes)? Mine has focussed my outlook on life and I've enjoyed the last 10 years, in its shadow, with a new appreciation of just how wonderful life can be. Don't let the years simply pass you by but make the most of every day you have!
Because it isn't easy to take pictures with myself in them, I often gave my camera to someone else and asked them to click the shutter instead. This usually worked very well but on occasions the results were interesting to say the least. This particular photo was taken by an old lady in Nancy, France - whether she deliberately did what she did, or whether it was just an accident, I shall never know!
I experienced nothing but kindness along the way - before, during and after the actual ride. The media would have us believe that the World is full of bad people but, in my experience, most people are kind, generous and helpful, whichever country they happen to live in. Here are some examples...
My sincere thanks to all of you - friends, family and complete strangers alike.
If Switzerland, Italy and Germany can provide such good facilities for cyclists, why can't we in the UK? Joined up cycle paths, urban contaflow routes, cycle-friendly traffic lights and good signage are the norm. Click on the pictures below to see typical Swiss red signed routes for cyclists, mountain bikers and rollerbladers, and yellow signed footpaths for walkers.
What a terrible welcome our European neighbours receive as they cycle off the ferry at Dover, dicing with death amongst lane after lane of heavy motor traffic!
Northern France is littered with reminders of the First World War, and the displays at cemeteries and battle sites taught me a lot about that terrible period in European history. All the more remarkable, therefore, to find myself moving from country to country with only a roadsign to inform me - I didn't pass a border control or need my passport anywhere between Slovenia and the UK. The European Union isn't perfect by any means, but isn't it better that we discuss our differences these days instead of killing each other? I just hope that the former Yugoslavian nations can learn that lesson before that region blows up again - I sensed continued tension while I was there.
I cycled from Dover to Seaford on 14 October - it was my first day back in the UK and also my 60th birthday. I stopped for a cup of tea at a café in Hastings and there, on the next table, was the first newspaper I'd seen in 2 months. It was the Daily Mail and its main headline read 'TEST THAT PREDICTS PROSTATE CANCER'. The article reported a recent breakthrough in prostate cancer research - and my sponsored charity, Prostate Cancer UK, funds such research. No doubt you can guess how I felt as I rode on for the rest of that day!
© Di + Chris Bell