Three Women Taking on RideLondon-Surrey Sportives for a Good Cause

These three women are riding the event on July 31 for different reasons, but all for a good cause

Over the 29 to 31 July this year, over 100,000 people are expected to ride more than three million miles during the Prudential RideLondon Festival of Cycling. That’s a lot of riders – new, experienced, young, old, male and female – and every single one of them will have a story to tell. 

6 Tips for Riders Tackling the Prudential RideLondon 100

There will be a vast array of cycling attractions and opportunities – from watching BMX youngsters compete at Lee Valley, to seeing female pros race the Classique, and taking part in the mass participation family friendly Free Cycle, Ride46 or Ride100 challenges.

The RideLondon-Surrey 46 and 100 sportives are both fantastic events that motivate thousands of people to get out and ride every year – both on the day and in the lead up as they train for the challenge. Not only that, many of those taking part are doing so to raise money for charity.

We caught up with three women preparing for the ride. Their sporting backgrounds vary dramatically (particularity in the case of our final rider) –  but they’re all riding with the goal of raising money for a charity close to their heart..

Catherine Farrow who is cycling RideLondon100 for MS

Catherine Farrow

Catherine is 46 year-old who hails from Redhill in Surrey (not too far from our editor). Three years ago, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and will be completing the event to raise money for the MS Society.

MS is a neurological condition, that affects over 100,000 people in the UK. It inhibits the nervous system and its ability to communicate, resulting in physical and mental symptoms such as muscle spasms, pain, and problems with speech and swallowing. Symptoms vary dramatically between people, but the condition is particularly prevalent in women. Though MS can’t be cured, it can be managed, and exercise can help ease the effects of the disease.

After her diagnosis, Catherine took up cycling, working her way through a selection of challenges. In 2015 she supported her husband at the RideLondon-Surrey 100, and this year she’ll be taking part too – it will be her greatest achievement on the bike so far.

“I took up road cycling after my diagnosis to get fit and this year is my first sportive.”

She says: “I took up road cycling after my diagnosis to get fit and this year is my first sportive. Jason is helping me train and will be riding with me on the day. It was such a great atmosphere in London last year when I went to watch and support Jason that I really wanted to take part this year.”

Catherine says that cycling has had a positive influence on her health, overall fitness – and life in general. She said: “I am truly riding to beat MS in every sense. We are delighted to be able to help raise funds for the MS Society and together we can beat MS.”

So far, Catherine has raised over £1,000 – well over her target of £500. You can add to her total here. 

Clare Skidmore who will be cycling the Ridelondon 100 for her mum

Clare Skidmore

In her preparations to complete the RideLondon-Surrey 100 mile sportive, 31-year-old Clare has also roped in her sister and brother-in-law. All three will be raising money for Weston Hospicecare, a hospice that cared for Clare’s mother who died last year after a battle with cancer.

The Cardiff based trio have so far raised over £2,700 – but they’re looking to accumulate £3,000, a figure that’s not far off.

Clare was already a keen cyclist, and saw a poster for the event at the hospice whilst there caring for her mum. She’d completed several smaller sportives, but the century ride will prove a step up. She said: “I took part in a few sportives last year and have been building up to riding 100 miles. It seemed liked fate so I signed up straight away and my sister and her husband followed suit.”

“It seemed liked fate so I signed up straight away and my sister and her husband followed suit.”

Clare’s sister, Kerry, and her husband Jon are both novices, so the ride will be a huge undertaking for them. However, they’re all excited. Clare said: “We’re all looking forward to the atmosphere on the day. Having the opportunity to ride on closed roads in London is amazing! It’s going to be a day full of emotions. Prudential RideLondon has been something positive for us to look forward to and kept us focused since our mum passed away. It will be amazing for us all.”

Clare’s mum, Jeanne, was diagnosed with kidney cancer late in 2012. Despite treatment, the cancer came back in the summer of 2014. Clare said: “There was nothing that could be done. We didn’t think she was going to make it to Christmas that year (2014), but she did, which was amazing. The strength my mum showed throughout the hard times was truly remarkable. She was and still is my hero.”

Speaking about the care the hospice provided her mum with, Clare said: “Mum passed away peacefully on 6 March 2016, Mother’s Day, after spending one week in Weston Hospicecare. The care they gave my mum, and my sister and me, was amazing. They looked after all three of us and I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

She added: “The Hospice made Mum’s last days more bearable and they helped us cope. They gave us time, space, comfort and kindness when we needed it most. The Hospice needs to exist. I want to help raise funds to keep this amazing facility continuing to support other families like ours.”

Double Olympic Champ Dame Kelly Holmes is cycling for charity

Dame Kelly Holmes

Yes, the double Olympic champion Kelly will also be taking part on the day.

The retried Olympic 1500 and 800m Gold medalist will be completing the RideLondon-Surrey 46. She’s hoping to raise a total of £250,000 for five charities: The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Hospice in the Weald, Myeloma UK, Pickering Cancer Centre and Mind UK.

“I’ll be very honest and open with everyone that I’m a complete novice on the bike and if you go past me, good on you!”

The event will brand new territory for the runner -she explained, rather modestly: “I’ve never taken part in a mass participation cycling event before but I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be doing whatever I can to enjoy the event and get stuck in with everybody else but I’ll be very honest and open with everyone that I’m a complete novice on the bike and if you go past me, good on you!”

Holmes has dedicated a great deal of time to charity work since retiring in 2005. Her own cause, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, supports athletes as they transition from sport and uses their skills to help disadvantaged young people through mentoring programmes. Since launching nine years ago, the trust has reached more than 3,000 young people.

The other four chairites are also close to Homles’ heart, she said: “I set myself the aim of trying to raise £250,000 for five charities that are very close to my heart and have probably touched lots of other people with what they do. My mum suffered from myeloma recently and is now in remission but she was very lucky with the treatment she received so I’m supporting Myeloma UK to give awareness and profile to smaller cancer charities that aren’t so well known but affect so many people.”

Speaking about the addition of MindUK, she said: “I suffered myself from depression and self-harm and it’s not a nice place to be. If you’ve got a physical disability people will help and check you’re okay. But if you’re going through an emotional trauma, whatever that may be, you’ve still got to be sprightly and that’s not fair.”

We wish all three women the very best with their upcoming challenge.

If you’re riding either of the RideLondon-Surrey sportives, and looking for advice – check out: 

6 Tips for Riders Tackling the Prudential RideLondon 100

Everything you need for your first sportive

How to ride and enjoy your first sportive

What to eat before, during and after the ride


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