“Tou de Lou” – the mega memory ride for my mum, Lou

In April 2018, Chris' mum Lou was diagnosed with late stage cancer. The Palliative Care team at Sue Ryder Nettlebed [now the South Oxfordshire Palliative Care Hub] made her feel safe, comfortable and able to live life to the fullest. The support for Lou and the family has been invaluable and it was her wish to make sure they supported Sue Ryder in her legacy.

Chris ready to set off on his ride from Royal Blackburn Hospital

The ride begins

On September 7th 2018, I set out on a marathon bike ride in memory of Mum. She was cared for at Nettlebed Hospice near Henley-on-Thames, and they continue to be an amazing support to our family. I wanted to complete a challenge in memory of Mum which would pay homage to some significant aspects of her life, and so I resolved to take on a whopping 350 kilometres over three days whilst visiting key landmarks of her life.

The “Tou de Lou” was to start in Blackburn and covered 117 kilometres in the first day – a massive 73 miles! I made sure to stop off at several important spots on the route south – including the Royal Blackburn Hospital, Glossop Rugby Club and the Woodlands Guest House as the route wound its way through the beautiful Peak District.

Bike leaning against stone Peak District sign

Sore muscles and headwinds

Day two dawned at the Southern tip of the Peak District, and despite a route that on paper should have been easier than the first day, aching muscles, sore legs, and a big backpack and having to battle more than 100 kilometres (67 miles) of headwind meant it was anything but a straightforward ride.

The Alpaca Park Farm in Snareston was another important spot to stop off and the team there graciously donated a meal and a load of coffee to help fuel me on my epic journey south.

Chris with jersey and young family member

The final leg

On the third day of the ride, the sun came out and shone for the final leg. Starting between Coventry and Rugby, I was joined by my sister Gemma for the last 130 kilometres (81 miles) to head to the finish at the hospice. After taking in some beautiful scenery on the route, a cheeky pub stop and a mandatory coffee break in Benson, we both arrived at the hospice where we were able to rest our tired legs.

Chris and Gemma by the lake at Nettlebed Hospice with two small family members

All in all, Gemma, me and everyone else fundraising in memory of Lou have been able to fundraise enough to pay for a whole day of running the hospice. At the time of writing, we have raised a whopping £9,398 (and ten pence!) Our ride covered a total of 354 kilometres (220 miles) with 12,500 feet of climbing and taking 16.5 hours in the saddle.

We're sure that even people who don't ride bikes a lot can appreciate what an incredible achievement this is. If you'd like to help the team raise even more, you can find their fundraising page at JustGiving

Has Chris' story inspired you? Take on your own challenge and let us know!

Author

Chris wearing his cycling jersey

Team Incredible fundraiser

Chris Wood

Chris, along with his family raised thousands of pounds in memory of his mum, Lou by riding hundreds of miles from Blackburn to our Nettlebed Hospice