Alan Sutor took part in Sue Ryder's first Ride for Ryder cycling event in 1988 aged just 14. Fast-forward 31 years to the present day and he is preparing to take on the 2019 Ride for Ryder. In this blog post, Alan tells us about his experience of the care given at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and how it has spurred him on to take part in Ride for Ryder so many times.
I first supported Sue Ryder as a teenager because Ride for Ryder looked like good fun.
As a 14 year old in 1988, I was interested in cycling and wanted to complete a longer ride than I had done at that point. It was promoted as a mere 32-mile route but was in fact almost 42 miles, starting and finishing at Leckhampton Court Hospice.
I entered with a friend from school and recall my parents driving out to different locations to offer their support. I also took part in the second Ride for Ryder the following year.
Fast-forward some 28 years to 2017 and I decided to start cycling again. I was looking for a challenge and Ride for Ryder had stuck in my mind and was a natural choice. The hospice offers a quality of care that hospitals cannot and requires significant fundraising in order to continue offering its care.
What's it like taking on Ride for Ryder?
Despite not having ridden more than to the shops since my last Ride for Ryder, I started training at New Year and entered the 90km route as soon as registration was allowed.
It appears that 28 years off a bicycle had done nothing for my fitness and I seriously doubted whether I would manage the distance. Still, publicly announcing your intentions -however rash - does at least focus the mind!
The 90km route is actually relatively flat initially, considering that Cheltenham is surrounded by hills. On the day, I was impressed with how quickly I arrived at Broadway, although I was to pay for that later!
The great thing about Ride for Ryder is that there are plenty of others on the ride too, and it is possible to have company and support even if you've signed up on your own. It certainly helped when I was flagging a little, as did the chocolate and additional water at one of the refreshment stops provided.
A cause close to my heart
Since the 2017 Ride for Ryder, both my father and mother-in-law have received care from Sue Ryder. The team provided my mother-in-law with palliative care in her home during her final few weeks. They also gave palliative care to my father in Leckhampton Court Hospice upon leaving hospital whilst a nursing home placement was sought.
Having experienced how much it meant to those being treated, I am even keener to support the organisation.
During my father’s stay at Leckhampton Court Hospice, it was obvious that every staff member was worthy of praise. I could not fault the quality of care my father received. Everybody I encountered during his stay there made a real effort to make him as comfortable as possible. There is a whole team supporting the work of the nurses and doctors, and every member of that team tried to personalise the care provided.
I was unable to take part in the 2018 Ride for Ryder due to my wife very inconsiderately having a birthday, but I was determined to do the 130km! Some 30 years on, here I am in 2019 preparing for my longest distance to date.
Sponsor Alan or join him in the 2019 team
Our 2019 Ride for Ryder on Saturday 23rd June will be bigger and better than ever before with a choice of three sportive challenges: a 40km beginner route, a 90km route and a 130km route for more experienced cyclists.
Ride for Ryder 2019
Has Alan inspired you to hop on your bike and get involved?
Leckhampton Court Ride for Ryder cyclist
Alan, who is the director of an automotive repair business, will take on the 130km route in the 2019 Ride for Ryder. This will be the fourth time Alan has participated in Ride for Ryder for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, where many of his family were cared for.