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Stratford cancer survivor gears up for cycling Race Across America

Mike Grisenthwaite
Mike Grisenthwaite

TWO-TIME cancer survivor and Stratford resident Mike Grisenthwaite is gearing up to take on what's believed to be the toughest cycling race in the world.

Mike joins a four-member team of cancer survivors in an attempt to complete the Race Across America (RAAM) on 16th June.

The team shares a common bond of all having survived cancer. Both Mike and Richard Salisbury who's from Manchester have survived blood cancer, Kevin Musgrave from Wakefield has survived testicular cancer and Carol Sheehan from Somerset, thyroid cancer.

Mike said: “We're going to be setting a world record. We're the first team ever of cancer survivors to race across America.”

The ride is a non-stop relay over 3,100 miles across the country starting in Oceanside, California, and to the east coast at Annapolis, Maryland. The team hopes to complete the course within around seven days. Each team member will try to average 18mph for a week cycling about 800 miles each.

Mike added: “We're all club cyclists, we cycle at the local level and we're going to be racing against some of the world's best cyclists. To ride 24 hours throughout the night is quite a ride, especially for someone who's 55 years old like me.”

The team has trained for over a year with a special cycling coach in all kinds of weather to prepare for the cross country challenge. The race is the world's longest time trial, about 30 per cent longer than the Tour de France. Racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time, with no rest days.

Mike added: “It's just to show cancer doesn't have to mean the end and you can go on and do great things.”

The team has set a fundraising target of £100,000, which will go to the Cyclists Fighting Cancer charity started by Mike in 2005.

Mike said: “It's about raising awareness of what the charity does to help children, and seeing what you can achieve despite having gone through life-changing medical procedures.”

The ride is fully funded by corporate donations, so all donations to the cause will go directly to the CFC charity.

The charity helps support children and young people living with and beyond cancer across the UK with their rehabilitation during and after treatment. The charity also helps children regain their physical fitness, strength and confidence by giving them new bikes, adapted trikes, tandems, other equipment and support.

After his diagnosis with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 37, as an active athlete and avid cyclist, Mike was determined to stay fit. Within six months of completing treatment he finished the Lanzarote Ironman Triathlon race.

He rode the Tour de France in 2007 with ex-England Footballer, Geoff Thomas and a team of four other cancer survivors.

He added:“Our culture says if you're not well you should rest. It's really the opposite. Medical studies have shown exercise at an appropriate level improves your response to treatments and you ultimately come out of the treatment program in a better position. You've got all this toxicity in your body the best thing to do is to exercise.”

He now works full-time with the charity in the Stratford area where he lives with his family, which includes two children who attend Stratford High School.

The charity also provides specialised personal training advice for cancer survivors.

He works at its headquarters in Alderminster, where he also opened the charity's first bike shop in 2016. The shop sells donated bikes, accessories and clothing. He has since opened two more charity bike shops near Brighton and Manchester.

Mike said:“It's grown massively. We've raised over £3million, and we have a network of people who help us deliver the bikes.”

More about the team's challenge, including how to donate can be found at: http://cfcraam.bike/

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