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.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Last Friday was the Rock at the Castle event, at Clitheroe Castle.  I was asked to bring my bike and say a few words at the first interval, after Waltz Invention had played.  It’s a great venue with a proper old fashioned bandstand facing a natural ampitheatre, and despite the damp weather there was a good turnout.  After my stage appearance (!) Big Al Taylor and I got on with selling raffle tickets – we worked up quite a sweat and ran out, having to send a runner (well, former Mayor Mary Robinson actually ma’am) to get some more!

The event was a great success, with performances from Blues Dudes and then Freebird –  I hadn’t realised the bass guitarist was my old next door neighbour Derek!  It was also a financial success, and although I haven’t got the final figures, Cancer Research UK will benefit from another several hundred pounds!


You may remember I did the Action Medical Research Cross Pennine 100 mile sportive a couple of weeks ago.  I thought it was so well organised it would be worth doing their York 100 event last Sunday.

320 riders did the 100 mile route, starting from the excellent facilities of York University. I set off in the 3rd or 4th bunch and decided to go out quickly to see how long it would take to tire out! So I got on the wheels of a couple from Harrogate and did the first 8 or 9 miles at over 20 mph, then, after being dropped on the first hill of any consequence, kept up the momentum and enjoyed overtaking people for a while.

The foodstops, facilities, in fact the whole organisation, were excellent. The first stop was at Thixendale Village Hall – much of the route was in the Yorkshire Wolds and the descent to the village is particularly scenic.  After a further 25 miles lunch (still only 10.45) was at Burton Fleming, no more than five miles from the route coastal route near Bridlington that I took on my Round Britain Cycle.  Son Mark’s best man Mr Chris Toop caught me up about five miles before the stop and we rode those five miles together.

From the halfway stop the route was all into headwind, back towards the Wolds and then, from Coneythorpe and Castle Howard, the undulating Howardian Hills through Malton.  Overall it was a lot hillier than I expected (3,700ft in 103 miles). I finished in 7h 39m 22s, first time ever in the top half at 142nd. A superb event once again – AMR do about the best job I know of organising sportives.

At the finish I was talking to another rider and mentioned I was from Clitheroe. He said "You're the second person I've seen from Clitheroe today – an old bloke wearing a Clitheroe jacket came past me this morning, going like a train!" I knew there was no-one else there from Clitheroe so that must have been me. Talk about getting an insult and a compliment in the same sentence!!

I also had another free massage.  It turned out that my masseuse, Libby, was born and brought up in Clitheroe and went to the Girls’ Grammar School.  She lived on Green Drive which is about 300 metres as the crow flies from where I was brought up! Small world indeed!

Action Medical Research’s next local sportive is the Lake District 100, 25th September. It starts in Keswick with Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, and Kirkstone passes, plus the delights of Borrowdale, Buttermere, Ullswater and Windermere.  They say it's 7,000 ft of ascent but the Clitheroe Cross Pennine event was that – this is actually nearer 10,000 ft. Anyone interested?

Friday, 12 August 2011

A Surprise At Lunchtime

First things first.  I’m a member of Clitheroe Rotary Club.

Now before you start thinking of secret societies and the like, let me tell you it’s nothing at all like that. On average about 40 members of both sexes - mainly men, I admit - meet every Thursday lunchtime and have a one-course lunch (oh, the decadence!). The banter is brilliant. We organise all kinds of events: some raise money to spend on good causes, and on others, like the town bonfire, we get stuck in up to our elbows.

If you still think it’s a secret society, come to the Old Post House on Thursday and see for yourself (let me know beforehand so Roger knows how many lunches to make).

Now, when I told fellow Rotarian David Bleazard last week that I’d reached my initial fund-raising target of £20,000 he said, with a nod and a wink, “Don’t shave the beard off yet – keep it on till the next meeting.”  My imagination began to run riot – perhaps a scantily clad young lady with a cut-throat razor and lots of shaving foam?  What did he have in mind?

It was therefore with some trepidation that I went to the meeting yesterday. Ron Duxbury, the District Governor was attending – ah, now before you start thinking – let me say that ‘District Governor’ is a very posh title which I really don’t like. If you have a lot of similar clubs, then just as when you have a lot of shops, like Superdrug or Marks & Spencer, you need an area manager, so things can be organised properly. That’s all a ‘DG’ is – an area manager. Only he does it for fun and doesn’t get paid. And he comes from Barrow-in-Furness.

And it turns out that David Bleazard’s ‘don’t shave off the beard’ tip was a complete red herring – he was just throwing me off the scent, and he’d done it very well. As soon as the pork, carrots and potatoes had been polished off, the DG presented me with a Paul Harris Fellowship.  Paul Harris founded Rotary International over 100 years ago and a PH Fellowship is a very prestigious award (at least in Clitheroe and most of the UK – I believe there are countries where you can buy one, a bit like peerages used to be!).  I made a little speech and wished I’d put a tie on.  Then the club gave me a cheque for £1,000 for Cancer Research UK.

So there’s me, dead chuffed, thinking ‘What’s Val going to say when she finds out I could have shaved this beard off a week ago?’ It didn’t take long to find out, because when she got home to the news she said she was very proud of me and then went to get the razor!  As you can see from the photo, I’m now got my clean-shaven look back.

Two more things – tonight is the Rock At The Castle Gig with Waltz Invention, Blues Dudes and Freebird – with a share of the proceeds going to Cancer Research UK – so please come along and enjoy yourself – I’ll be there!

Secondly, when I finished the Cross Pennine 100 mile bike ride the weekend before last there was this Welsh cyclist chap there – told me he was the highest placed British finisher in this year’s Tour de France – so I told him I’d cycled twice as far round the coast of Britain, only a bit slower! So Hi to Geraint Thomas MBE!  Nice chap and doing a good job supporting Action Medical Research.

Er - just like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition Sketch - Three more things - I've now raised over £22,300 for Cancer Research UK - now I know the initial target was £20,000, but could we make a big push now for £25,000? Why not? If you CAN donate, go to http://www.justgiving.com/Bill-Honeywell - thank you!

Monday, 1 August 2011

A Milestone Today – and a dilemma…

Yesterday I decided to enter the Cross Pennine 100 Cycle Sportive which started from the Roefield Leisure Centre in Clitheroe and was organised by Action Medical Research.  It was a 104-mile ride through some great scenery in the Ribble Valley and Yorkshire Dales, including Malham Cove, Ribblehead and Dent Village.  

Malham Cove (taken on a frosty morning in 2008)

The weather was kind and, although numbers weren’t that great, the riders were treated to a well-organised event with excellent signs en route, lots of good food, and even a free massage at the finish.

Ribblehead Railway Viaduct

Another one I prepared earlier - Swaledale sheep near Ribblehead

Also at the finish was Geraint Thomas MBE, Olympic Champion, Team Sky rider and Action Medical Research supporter.  I told him I’d just completed a ride that was more than twice the length of the Tour de France – although it had taken me considerably longer to ride it than three, or even six, weeks.  He asked me if the weather had been nice – I don’t think The Tour riders are used to 100 mph winds!

All sportive organisers issue the riders’ times afterwards:  mine was 9:05:37, but this is the total time elapsed from start to finish, including the time taken at the three feed stops.  My net riding time was over an hour less, at 7:58:34.  I do wish organisers would neutralise the time at feed stops, up to a maximum of 15 minutes each, say, so that you could get a better idea of your real time.  I know it’s not a race, but most people are at least a bit competitive, and there must be quite a temptation to miss out the stops altogether in order to post an impressive time.

Other delays – I stopped to help someone with a puncture, and to repair my chain ring which had come loose – are something you have to accept.  Mind you, I also noticed yesterday that there was plenty of scope for taking short-cuts without being found out. And before you ask, the answer is no, I didn’t!

Sponsorship money has continued to arrive since I finished the Cycle Round Britain’s Coast.  Today I reached my initial target of £20,000, so it’s a cause for celebration, and now it’s official that the beard will have to come off!  But I feel almost reluctant to admit that I’ve reached the target in case people stop donating – to me the important thing is getting the best result for Cancer Research UK, not just reaching some arbitrary target figure.  So do I keep it quiet – or do I change the figure on Just Giving from £20,000 to £25,000? (I can’t do really!) 

So a BIG, BIG THANK YOU to all those who have made a donation, and  if you haven’t donated yet then please don’t let the fact that I’ve reached the target put you off!