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Self-confessed ‘rookie cyclist’ Natalie Ingham is taking on the mammoth 81-mile Sigma Sports West Coast Classic bike ride this weekend, in honour of her friend Leon Callon.  Leon was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice earlier this year, and along with family and friends who make up #TeamCallon, he has helped raised thousands of pounds […]

Self-confessed ‘rookie cyclist’ Natalie Ingham is taking on the mammoth 81-mile Sigma Sports West Coast Classic bike ride this weekend, in honour of her friend Leon Callon. 
Leon was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice earlier this year, and along with family and friends who make up #TeamCallon, he has helped raised thousands of pounds for charities including St Catherine’s after he was diagnosed with a rare type of stomach cancer aged just 35.
In her second blog, Natalie explains how the generosity of her newfound cycling community has really spurred her on during training, and how she’s feeling ahead of Sunday’s challenge. 

Things have gotten serious in this last month … really serious! Having reached the milestone of half-distance back in May, it was overwhelming to imagine how I could progress from 40 to 81 miles in time for the event. I had no choice but to just keep going out and trying each time to get further than the time before.

I discovered that although cycling alone, I am part of a huge community. The real-life cyclists give me a ‘nod’ of a greeting when we pass and each and every time I’ve been stopped roadside – most times just having a rest – I’ve been asked by a fellow cyclist if I’m ok. I was never more grateful of this than when my chain kept coming off and I didn’t know why. A cyclist from a local club stopped, told me what the problem was and put in a fix to get me back on the road. He also told me to consider their club if I was looking for one, because they never leave a person behind.   

I was struck by this community spirit again a couple of weeks later when a cyclist called out to ask me where I was headed. I was aiming for 50 miles and didn’t really know I was going. He invited me to join him and his wife on their ride and they took me on the most stunning route in full view of the Three Peaks.

I got very lucky that day because he turned out to be a Team GB cyclist and sports physiotherapist, having competed and supported the national team in his age category for the last 40 years! So not only did I enjoy lunch with them, but he gave me a professional bike fitting and they both coaxed and encouraged me to clip into my pedals once I’d told them of my fear after falling so many times. I finished the ride having so much more confidence and amazed I’d been given that opportunity with them. Talk about right place, right time!

I couldn’t afford to miss a training session, even whilst on holiday in Wales. So my boyfriend and my dog dragged me to the summit of Snowdon – what a workout that was for my legs! I’ve also cycled different parts of the official route to make sure there are no surprises on the day.

The big ride is on Sunday and my longest ride so far has been 60 miles. It’s going to be tough to push that on to 81 miles and I’m feeling very nervous, but I will think of my sponsors and dig deep! I’m at almost 70% of my £1800 fundraising target and hoping to have achieved this by the time I cross the finish line. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Your Care & Support

Self-confessed ‘rookie cyclist’ Natalie Ingham is taking on a mammoth 81-mile bike ride this summer, in honour of her friend Leon Callon. Leon was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice earlier this year, and along with family and friends who make up #TeamCallon, he has helped raised thousands of pounds for charities including St Catherine’s […]

Self-confessed ‘rookie cyclist’ Natalie Ingham is taking on a mammoth 81-mile bike ride this summer, in honour of her friend Leon Callon.
Leon was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice earlier this year, and along with family and friends who make up #TeamCallon, he has helped raised thousands of pounds for charities including St Catherine’s after he was diagnosed with a rare type of stomach cancer aged just 35.
In the first of three blogs, Natalie tells why she wants to support Leon’s legacy with the gruelling challenge; how training is going; and how a few little falls and bruises won’t hinder her dedication to the cause.

Back in February, when I saw St Catherine’s post on social media about securing places in the Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride, I really wanted to join the team, but was gutted to realise I was already away that weekend. I spoke to Leon and, as expected, he said that shouldn’t stop me training hard and entering something else. After a little research I found the Sigma Sports West Coast Classic event happening in Preston a week before the Manchester to Blackpool one.

I had been thinking for some time about how I could contribute to Leon’s fundraising team, #TeamCallon, raising awareness about the vital work of St Catherine’s and the funding needed to help support the hospice’s services.

I thought to myself ‘well I have a bike, a gym membership and time to train – almost 17 weeks’. So despite not really riding a bike since childhood, and never having ridden on the road, I clicked enter!

The event has three route options – short, standard and epic. Not wanting Leon to tease me for entering the ‘short’ ride (as I knew he would, even though this was still 56 miles) I signed up for the standard course – oh just a standard 81 miles!

Starting and finishing in Preston on July 1st, the route takes in some of The Forest of Bowland and heads out to Lytham for a fish and chip fuel stop on the beach.

Having known Leon since childhood, I knew he’d be excited that I’d finally joined his fundraising team and proud of me for committing to something that he knew would be a huge personal challenge. Sadly, Leon passed away about four weeks into my training, but not before giving me fundraising tips and motivational words of advice from his own experiences, after riding the Leeds Liverpool canal the year before, shortly after his cancer diagnosis.

My first few weeks of training have seen me having to buy a new bike (apparently all bikes are not equal), source all necessary gear (padded pants – an absolute must) and trying (and failing) to negotiate clip-in pedals! Let’s just say I don’t yet feel ‘at one’ with my bike and I am covered in bruises, after falling three times; once in a petrol station and once in the middle of Blackpool on a sunny bank holiday. But people tell me this is a cyclist’s rite of passage and so I keep getting back on, thinking how Leon is most likely laughing down at my escapades but proud all the same.

Fundraising is going well and I have raised almost a third of my £1,500 target which makes it all worthwhile. Over the next few weeks I will need to increase my time in the saddle and build up the miles, as well as finally crack the clip in pedals once and for all  – but I will let you know how that goes in my next instalment.

If you would like to sponsor me, please click here.

Our Next Event

Upcoming Events

Become a Volunteer

St Catherine’s Hospice relies on the hard work and support of its team of more than 700 dedicated volunteers. They are at the heart of the Hospice and play an essential role in enabling us to provide the services we do.

Register your interest

Join Our Lottery

For just £1 you could win the jackpot of £2,000! And the best bit? All profits raised through the lottery are spent directly on patient care delivered by St Catherine's at the hospice in Lostock Hall and in communities across Central Lancashire.

Play Lottery

Take a look around

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.