David Wring’s wife Sarah had a series of heart attacks 15 months ago, caused by SCAD. They are both committed to raising awareness and funds for Beat SCAD and the SCAD research project in Leicester, so David set himself a massive challenge of cycling from their home in Devon to Nice – more than 1,100 miles.
“My obvious motivation was Sarah’s completely unexpected SCAD episodes, but additionally the unique care from Glenfield Hospital and Dr Abi Al-Hussaini,” said David.
Sarah has never smoked, taken drugs, doesn’t drink and took regular exercise so had no risk factors for normal heart disease.
“Sarah was incredible lucky to be correctly diagnosed at Truro Treliske Coronary unit by a cardiologist Dr Audrius Simaitis, who had recently attended a cardiology seminar in New York and, fortunately, a discussion group about SCAD. But this element of luck needs to be reduced,” said David.
David’s route started on 6 July at Plymouth docks Roscoff, went to St Malo, St Quentin Sur La Homme, Vitré, Angers, Richelieu, St Savin, Bonnat, Peyrat le Chateau, Riom, St Flour, Mende, Pont d’arc, Ballon, Vaison la Romaine, Sault, Greoux, Castellane and finally arriving after 18 days in Nice on 24 July. And making the challenge even harder was the temperature, which reached 39 degrees through Provence.
Cycling 1,300 miles is no mean feat, but David explained why he took on the challenge: “I wanted to do something my friends would believe to be outside of my ability, so I chose to ride my bike from our home in Newquay to Nice – the Atlantic to the Med. I needed to buy a new bike obviously!”
“I designed a cycle jersey and had it made up. The design incorporates the heart and the bike – my new bike, Aldo, also has the logo on it.” The bike is a hand-built Donhou and the logo is hand sprayed into the finish.
He described the first part of the route: “I rode from my home in Newquay to Plymouth docks to Roscoff, then rode to Morlaix then Renn then St Malo, where I joined my support team Green Jersey French tours. We then cycled to St Michel – approx 80 miles per day.
Then we had a hilly tough day to Bonnet then onto Peyrat le Chateau, at which point I had cycled over 600 miles – and was still not half way! The country is spectacular and vast with enormous fields of sunflowers to take your mind off the long journey and sore bum!”
David made a point of telling absolutely everyone he met on his journey about SCAD, helping raise awareness, and he obviously made an impact. “One chap I met, Edwin, an expert in malaria research at Plymouth University, cycled with me from Roscoff to Morlaix, helping to carry my bags,” he said. We said goodbye at Morlaix and on his return to UK he donated £50!”
On his designated day off he met two rugby players, who offered him £200 to ride up Mont Ventoux. He was also challenged to wear a tricolor club jersey (see photo). He accepted both challenges.
“The climb is a renowned killer with a 9% hill for 22km. It took me 2 hours 15 minutes to ride up that hideous climb, but it was worth £200 for the cause,” he said.
Towards the end of the challenge, he cycled from Gorges de L’Ardeche to Vaison la Romaine. “After the climb out of the gorge, the most stunning road opened up and the ride along the top of the gorge was simply the most spectacular I have ever ridden. After the gorge, we then crossed the Rhone and into Provence following the mighty Mont Ventoux with its white stone cap. The heat was intense – at 39ft my water bottles were really warm, which made hydration tough and no businesses were open and the roads and streets deserted.
“The journey became painfully slow but eventually we made the hotel and, with 2 litres of cold water drunk, the dizziness passed. I’ve never known a taste so sweet as that cold water and it will be one of my top memories.
“Total miles ridden 926!”
On the penultimate day, David had “a spectacular day riding through the Gorges Du Verdon, in south-eastern France. It’s a river canyon with loads of man-made beaches along the edges and it is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful areas – I would have to agree it’s stunning! It is about 25km long and the granite walls tower above and in places overhang the road. Awesome scenery throughout, which eased the gradient! Total miles ridden 1,069.”
David completed his cycle in the beautiful city of Nice on 24 July – saddle sore, aching but celebrating his fantastic achievement.
The generosity of the people he met and those who have donated via his Just Giving page has been fantastic, but one man stuck in David’s mind.
“When I took a taxi from Clifton Bristol to Temple Meads train station, the driver was Mohammed, a Muslim immigrant from Somalia, in full dress and skull cap. We chatted for the entire journey and when he dropped me off I asked what the fare was. He told me it was £10 and as I went to the boot to collect my bags he extended his hand we shook hands. I felt paper in my hand he closed it and wished me and Sarah good luck. I thought it might be a prayer but it was a £5 note! It made me genuinely cry as this was more than he could possibly afford!”
He has so far raised £2,327 and is hoping to reach a grand total of £2,500. The Just Giving page is still open, so click hear to donate to help further research into SCAD.
David’s determination to complete the challenge can be summed up by his comment about the punishing climb up Mont Ventoux: “I constantly thought of Sarah on the climb as the heat and the pain in my legs were unbearable, but Sarah has never once complained about her SCAD episodes so my effort was nothing in comparison!”
Well done and a massive thank you to David (and his support team) for completing this mammoth challenge. We hope your aching muscles recover soon!
See below for a slideshow of more photos from David’s trip.