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Sian Baker: my reason for cycling 100 miles

With Ride London 2017 close at hand, we spoke to Sian Baker, from Leeds, to find out why she joined #teamICR to cycle the Prudential Ride London for us in 2016 and to find out what it takes to cycle 100 miles around London and the Surrey countryside. 

Sian Baker cycles the Ride London 100 miles for Institute of Cancer Research

Let's dive right in: Sian, why did you want to fundraise for the ICR?

I’m one of those really fortunate people in life that gets to have two Dads, my birth Dad and my Dad that raised me alongside Mum. But very sadly, both my Dad who raised me and my birth dad were diagnosed with terminal cancer and they passed away within four months of each other.

My brother Nicky was also diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2014 and happily, following almost a year of treatment, Nicky was told he was in remission in September 2015. 

From the moment someone close to you falls ill, throughout the diagnosis process, through treatment and then watching them slip away from you, or dealing with the aftermath of treatment you understand what a cruel disease cancer is. It does not care who it targets or how well loved they are. Neither does cancer care about the devastating impact caused to the loved ones left behind. That’s why I wanted to raise money for the ICR - to be able to make a difference so that other families do not have to suffer the pain of the illness, treatment or even the loss of a loved one to cancer.

Why did you choose to do the Prudential Ride London cycle?

My boyfriend Vince is a huge cyclist and I know how much he enjoys it.

I've always been nervous about road cycling, but knowing the event was closed road and having attended to support Vince previously made me want to attempt it myself! I’m not a big runner, so this was my version of a marathon.

How did you feel when you found out you’d got a place cycling for the ICR?

I was shocked!! I thought perhaps my limited cycling experience would count against me. Vince was even more shocked as I hadn't told him I'd applied for a charity place!

I had originally applied through the ballot but didn’t receive a place and realised that I could apply for a charity place. Given my family history it had to be a charity doing something for all types of cancer. 

Let’s talk training – how did you find it, as a novice cyclist?

Training was tough, especially having to build up the miles and fit it around a demanding job - but I loved it. Vince was very supportive with my training and we even cycled while on holiday in Gran Canaria too which was lovely. I fell off twice there as it was the first time I'd used proper pedals/shoes! One time at a zebra crossing, which was a bit embarrassing!! 

I also did 100 miles with a group of guys at work who cycled our logistics network from Dartford to Grangemouth. I joined them on one of their days and they were incredibly supportive. I was their support crew for their charity event and they helped me get to the 100 mike mark! I'll be forever grateful. 

Let’s talk about the race day itself. How did you feel? Excited? Nervous? Ready to go?

I was really nervous but as I'd done 100 miles once already I knew I could do it! Vince had set off early as he had a start time of around 5am. I chatted to a few people in the line as we moved towards the start…the closer we got, the scarier it became!

I lost a water bottle in the first mile so that made me worry a little too. But once I was properly underway I loved it. The atmosphere amongst the cyclists was great and when there were supporters along the route they really lifted your spirits. 

Good for you for completing the race! What was the best part of it for you?

The weather was really kind to us and it was beautiful cycling through London and Surrey and being able to see the countryside and sights, and not worry about traffic. For me the last three miles were the best.

That said, having the latest start time I felt the sweeper van was on my tail all day. The route was cut short for me and Leith Hill was removed due to incidents and this did increase the pressure to keep moving! But in that last three miles I knew I was going to get to cross the finish line soon. Plus, the crowds were really big and cheering so very loudly – and that really helped! I knew I'd done what I'd set out to do and that both my Dads would be proud of me for what I'd achieved. 

How did you feel crossing that finish line?

Elated and emotional. I definitely had tears in my eyes and I blew two kisses to the sky as I crossed the line. I'd absolutely love to do it again. 

What would you say to anyone considering the race but who isn’t sure?

Absolutely do it! It's an amazing experience and I've never felt healthier with all the training! It’s very different to something like running. 

If you want an experience like Sian’s, we have cycling events across the UK and around the world waiting for you! Find out more and join #teamICR in raising money to defeat cancer.

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