Every summer, hundreds of amazing women come together at night to cycle 100km or 50km around London or Edinburgh in support of people affected by breast, ovarian and cervical cancers. Raising much needed funds and awareness for our trio of invaluable Women V Cancer charities, every single one of our incredibly inspiring participants have a different story behind taking part. Here, the amazing Siân Davies shares her reasons for taking on her sixth Ride the Night in 2020.
I initially signed up for Ride the Night 2014 for no reason except my friend Babs was looking for a friend to join her. I dusted off my bike and we trained and conquered it together.
It was tough, but we had a fantastic time. The spirit of adventure, the camaraderie and the feeling of that one collective body of women joining together to raise money for such a good cause was brilliant fun!
I signed up straight away for Ride the Night 2015.
That September, I hit my first hurdle – in the form of a hysterectomy. Luckily, nothing other than massive fibroids were found. However, it knocked me back a bit and I struggled with fitness for Ride the Night 2015.
I got my costume right this time and was in the official video; but didn’t keep hydrated enough and ended up with such bad cramp that I actually fell off my bike at the first bridge. Undaunted, I stretched, and carried on, until with help from Babs, some pain killers and a massive amount of determination, I finished at about 7am!
"I'm never doing it again!!!!" I said. Two days later, I signed up for RTN 2016.
That October, I found a small lump in my breast.
I went to my doctor, who referred me to the Breast Unit at Derby Hospital and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. They were fantastic and removed my lump within a week.
But I was now on a journey like a train that you can't get off and my lymph nodes were found positive.
My stress levels were pretty high at this point! My chemo started in January 2016. It was tough, it drained me of energy and my legs didn't work. I struggled to walk a few hundred meters and realised, reluctantly, that RTN 2016 needed to be put on hold.
I was determined to get back on the bike for the following year. The chemo zapped all the strength from my legs and damaged the nerves in my legs and hands, so riding my usual bike wasn’t going to happen. I converted to an ebike and after my chemo and radiotherapy finished in the summer of 2016, I gradually built up my strength and fitness for Ride the Night 2017.
I told all my friends who sponsored me that although I would have some battery assistance, it would still be a challenge to ride 100km overnight around London!
Ride the Night 2017 was great fun and I beat my previous time by an hour. I was aware of some discussion about whether or not using an ebike was "fair" or "not real cycling"
That's really one of the reasons I want to share my story - it's not about the bike or the ebike; it's about raising money for three amazing charities and challenging yourself in the process. It's about a personal challenge, that’s different for everyone, depending on your own life journey. What's important is getting out there and doing something.
I completed Ride the Night London 2018 and the first Ride the Night Edinburgh in 2019. Edinburgh was a tremendous challenge for me, even on my ebike, as the hills meant that even with two batteries, I was really pushing the limits of my bike. I finished, though Arthur’s Seat at mile 55 was a killer!
Five Ride the Nights now on my belt, I'm back to Ride the Night London in 2020 and will be very proud to be a part of it. I’m taking on the 100km route as one of my challenges for my 60th birthday year.
My breast cancer journey made me realise how important charities like Breast Cancer Now were, offering information, support and a whole lot else!
What is Women V Cancer Ride the Night?
Over the last six years, thousands of inspiring women have cycled through London and as of 2019, Edinburgh, at night and raised over £6 million for Breast Cancer Now (formerly known as Breast Cancer Care), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Our challenges have also raised awareness of the charities, encouraged women to exercise and get fit and they have also formed lifelong friendships.
In 2020, we have not one but two distances (50km and 100km) to choose from in both London and Edinburgh - and we hope to get even more women on their bikes for Women V Cancer. We aim to raise another awesome £1.5 million for our charities and make an even bigger impact in the battle against women's cancers.
Thank you very much to Siân and to all the ladies already registered for Ride the Night London and Edinburgh 2020 - it's always an amazing, inspiring and incredibly emotional night and we can't wait to see you there.