Another amazing Nello day

The dust has barely settled on the latest Nello cycle ride for FORCE Cancer Charity but planning has already begun for next year’s event.

It’ll be the 20th Nello century cycle challenge on Sunday June 30 2019 and the organising team aim to make it a particularly special occasion.

The ride is FORCE’s single biggest annual fundraising event with up to £80,000 raised each year – a vital contribution to the charity’s work in offering face-to-face local support for anyone affected by cancer.

This year’s ride was blessed with sunshine all day as more than 1,200 cyclists set off from Topsham Rugby Club to ride either 100 or 55 miles. 

The atmosphere throughout was exceptional, right through to the finish and after party at Topsham Rugby Club.

Event organiser Sarah Daniels, FORCE Head of Income Generation, said: “The 19th Nello was quite possibly one of the best yet. The weather was kind to us, the cyclists were all in great spirits and everything went according to plan.

“All our sponsors continued to support us this year, helping to provide food, drink, first aid, bike repairs and physio around the course.

“Our utterly wonderful volunteers welcomed, fed, congratulated and cheered on nearly 1,300 cyclists throughout a blazing, sunny day.

“Special mention must be given to Northcott Cleaning Services, who also gave their time for free once again to help empty out and completely clean up all the vans at the end of the day.

“The Nello is special to anyone who has taken part, volunteered or spectated. So many first time cyclists, so many familiar faces – and then there are the ones we wanted to remember, who were no longer with us to cycle. So many memories to keep.

“A great annual get together for all – a community ride about supporting local people.”

Some of the cyclists have shared their 2018 Nello experiences.

Sue Wilkin trained hard for the 100-mile event, having completed the shorter distance for the first time last year.

She has had Chronic Lymphatic Leukaemia (CLL) for more than 14 years and a flare-up two years ago led to an immediate course of debilitating chemotherapy.

Sue has always kept herself fit, even running mountain marathons since diagnosis. She’s now in remission and riding The Nello 100 represented a new challenge.

She said: “Thank you so much for putting on an amazing day. I had never ridden 100 miles but I did it. WOW! Nine hours of cycling. It was hot and a tough old route but I loved it.

“I’d also like to say thank you to all the support given by the ambulance service (Alliance Pioneer Medical), who also enabled me to get on to the roundabout at South Molton, the Bike Shed, who had to look at my bike at Comers Gate, all the people on the food stations, who were so cheerful and lovely, all the supporters, Topsham Rugby Club, families and friends.

“All being well I would love to come back next year. Thank you again.”

Paul Cunningham, 63, from Plymouth said: “It was tough riding today – think this is my sixth or seventh ride. Initially I did the short route but it’s the long one every time now.”

Paul has a very personal reason for riding The Nello each year.

“In 2009 I had my first diagnosis of skin cancer, followed in 2014 with a diagnosis of bowel cancer and in 2015 a different version of skin cancer.

“Luckily for me there was a very alert sister writing up my notes and she recognised a possible link of Muir Torre. 

“So off I went for genetic screening and was diagnosed with mismatch repair genes (MMRG) of the gene MSH2. So I am Lynch Syndrome positive, which gets me to the point. One in three people in the world have Lynch Syndrome (which increases the risk of developing certain cancers) and 95% of those don’t know about it or that they have it.

“The work done by so many across the UK to keep people like me, who are high risk cancer patients, alive is astounding.

“I work on the theory that if I can ride a bike for 100 miles then somebody is doing something right to help me. This year I had radiotherapy for one of my skin cancers and on July 4th I will make something like my 24th visit to Derriford over the last year.

“The Nello is one of my yearly benchmarks to hit and when I finish, usually with rather damp eyes, I know I am still here and hopefully winning the battle.

“A heartfelt thank you from me to your wonderful team of helpers, tea and coffee makers, sandwich makers, water carriers and everyone who makes us all feel so good with their lovely smiles and kind words.

“Hope to see you next year.”

Dana Mulligan, who rode with Team Gilbert Stephens, said: “Thank you for organising an exceptional event. Getting involved with The Nello this year has really thrown me out of my comfort zone.

“I was crying on the last leg, knowing how much I had been through with injuries etc during training and all the money my friends and family had donated was just amazing.

“I have also spoken to so many people about FORCE Cancer Charity in the past few months and they have shared their stories and experiences of using FORCE with me – even down to my postman.

“It has been a journey that has really had an impact on my life and one that I am extremely proud to have been involved in.  I am still raising money and people are still donating, which is fantastic.

“Thank you, to all of the FORCE team and volunteers. It was a very special day and one I will always remember.”