CANCER survivor and charity founder Mike Grisenthwaite from Stratford has saddled up for yet another cycling endeavor – to recreate the 1962 Tour de France.
Mr Grisenthwaite set up national children’s charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer (CFC) in 2005 following his own battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The charity provides lightweight bikes, tandems and specially adapted trikes to children and young people living with and beyond cancer and was based upon Mr Grisenthwaite’s conviction that increasing his own health and fitness improved his post-cancer journey.
CFC encourages cycling as the best form of exercise-based rehabilitation for children because it provides physical and mental health benefits in a low impact, fun, sociable and exciting way.
Since 2005, CFC has supplied over 8,000 bikes to children living with cancer, as well as their families, enabling them to enjoy cycling as an activity together, often after years of hospitalisation and upheaval.
CFC also funds a network of Cancer Exercise Specialists who work closely with the twenty-one paediatric oncology units around the country to promote activity, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.
Leading by example, Mr Grisenthwaite is no stranger to gruelling cycling challenges and this time he has headed off to France where he is currently recreating the 1962 Tour de France, solo, and carrying everything he needs on his bike. The nostalgic bike ride is to mark Mr Grisenthwaite’s 60th birthday as well as to raise awareness of CFC.
Using old maps, he has spent weeks researching the route, trying as best as he can to recreate the original 22 stages. And at over 2,500 miles, the route will take him through the Pyrenees and Alps, including the summit of one of the highest paved roads in Europe – the Cime de la Bonette Alpine mountain.
Mr Grisenthwaite was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 37 and he was told he had seven to ten years. Also, because of the nature of the cancer, they could get rid of it short term but it would always relapse, cancer experts said. Knowing that it was going to come back, he wanted to be in the best possible shape to fight it.
The former professional rugby player completed his first Ironman triathlon in 2001 before the cancer returned and he underwent six months of chemotherapy, which took him “a long way down” and cost him his marriage, his business and his home.
His chance for recovery came in the form of his brother, David, who beat the one in six odds to provide a match for a life-saving bone marrow transplant in 2005, which cleared him of the disease.
He said: “I had come through all this mayhem and always had this idea in mind of cyclists fighting cancer, and it developed into a way of helping children affected by it. The bikes are something to give them a happy day.
“It’s important to know that it’s not a death sentence… it’s an inner belief that everything will work out. That if you do the right things, you can do a lot to help yourself and do fantastic things with your life after cancer”, he added.
For more information about Cyclists Fighting Cancer visit: https://cyclistsfc.org.uk