I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed (my first) ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 5 September 2021 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Cracking Cumbrian Cracker!

For the last few years Epic Events have organised a great sportive called the Christmas Cracker, based at Grasmere; but being in early December, the last two years’ cold weather have caused havoc, so this year they brought it forward to early November.  And what a good idea that was!  The weather could not have been better, with clear blue skies, no wind, and fabulous visibility.  The Lake District at its best.

Dave Hargrave (aka @roadbikedave to Tweeps) had entered the event before his untimely death last month, and many friends from Sunderland and beyond decided it would be a fitting tribute to carry on with the ride and dedicate it to his memory.  I’d been in charge of one of the gates at Clitheroe’s Town Bonfire the night before, resulting in a bit of a late night and general rush-around to get ready. But I only had one pint in the New Inn after the bonfire so at least I got a good night’s sleep and no hangover!

After scraping the frost off the car we headed off for Grasmere and parked about two miles from the village in one of the National Trust roadside car parks – where we discovered you can pay by credit card (and you need to, at £7 for the day!)  We only just made it to Grasmere for the meeting time of 10.00, but the Sunderland contingent was also running a bit late so we didn’t hold anyone up.

Thanks to www.sportsunday.co.uk for the photo.

Dave’s wife Hannah was there with the three children, and Craig Stephenson said a few words before we held a minute’s silence together.  I met – ‘in the flesh’ - a few other Tweeps - @iBenjamin, @jennyvelo and @northernpetman, and also a guy from Richmond (I didn’t get his name but he’s on the left of the photo) who had seen me on last weekend’s Audax ride, and recognised me by the Clitheroe Bike Club jacket and the unusual rear light I have on the back of my helmet.

By the way, I don’t know why more people don’t do this – all you need is a couple of tie-wraps to fasten an ordinary bicycle rear light to the back of your helmet.  It is so much more visible than a light fixed low down on the rear bike forks.

Almost immediately after setting off we were faced with the steep ascent of Red Bank. It always catches riders out, but it’s a nice feeling pedalling past cyclists who have already decided to get off and push! From there it was on to Elterwater, Coniston and the minor road down the east side of Coniston Water.  This used to be one of my favourite roads in the road rally days: once, when navigating for Ian Woof in a Chevette, we did the whole stage with a throttle that was jammed open – Ian’s only means of controlling the engine was by switching the ignition on and off, and he did pretty well to achieve this whilst still driving flat out and trying to listen to my pace notes!

Lunch was at the Scout Hut at Cartmel. Just to prove, yet again, what a small world it is, I met the ride mechanic, Dave Farnworth, and found out he was at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School at the same time as me (although he’s only a young 57!) and then Dave and Kath Gamble – Dave has had a lifelong interest in the Scouts, used to be manager of Boots the Chemist in Clitheroe and knows my next-door neighbours well! Benjamin from Sunderland decided to call it a day as he had had the mother of all chain malfunctions on what appeared to be a rather snazzy bike.

On the return we re-crossed the busy A590, climbed up past the Grizedale Visitor Centre with its magnificent Zip-Wire ride, then through Hawkshead before travelling along the minor road at Under Loughrigg and back to Grasmere, after a most enjoyable sixty miles.

I must say I would have appreciated a bit more food at the mid-way halt and the finish, but apart from this the organisation was as slick as usual.  We said our good-byes, cycled back to the car in the gloaming, and joined the masses of traffic heading out of the Lakes.  It had been a day of gorgeous sunshine, crystal-clear visibility and stunning autumn colours.  Were we just lucky, or was RoadBikeDave up there pulling a few strings in the weather department for us all?

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful piece Bill. Great to meet you. Hannah x