HVV Cycle

Monday 15th May 2017

Wil Woan reviews the first day of the Cycle Tour

We’ve come to the end of Day One of the Heart Valve Voice cycle ride from Guy’s & St Thomas’ in London, to the EuroPCR Conference in Paris. The intrepid adventurers set off this morning in wet conditions from St Thomas’ Hospital but we didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits. Our sponsors, Trustees and supporting clinicians came along to see us all off as we travelled down the ramp and towards Paris. On the team were mostly smiling faces although some showed signs of a tinge of nerves (mine included) but the goal of raising awareness of heart valve disease is well worth the hard work.

We were thrilled that Phil McCarthy, Clinical Director of Cardiovascular Services, King's College Hospital and senior ambassador for the Heart Valve Voice cycle ride and Chris Young, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital and Chair of Heart Valve Voice joined us on the ‘Grand Depart’ with both acknowledging the importance of awareness raising events like this and lending their support to Pat Khan, our patient ambassador. It was also great to see Neil Betteridge, Independent Health and Patient Consultant along to see us off. Neil has been supporting our patient engagement ambitions and he couldn’t have been prouder to see Pat representing and inspiring heart valve patients and as he said to me “Having Pat inspire others is in incredibly important in developing a sense of community amongst valve patients.”

We weaved out of London, not the best bit, to be honest, and it wasn't long before we came across the Cutty Sark where Stuart Grant, Specialist Trainee Cardiothoracic Surgery, Manchester Royal Infirmary decide to fall off his bike in front of three school parties! We helped brush him off and finally made our way out of the city. During the ride, I had a great chat with Ishtiaq Ahmed, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, Royal Sussex County Hospital, on the quieter roads and he generously committed his support to our policy work ensuring we work to ensure that patients have access to innovative technologies that are more readily available. I can’t wait to work with him.

During the second half of our day, the sun began to finally shine through and we picked up speed racing through the countryside. I steamed up a huge hill, eagerly anticipating the ‘long down hill’ when I went and got a puncture! Luckily, the Bicycle Buddy team were quick to pick me up and I was back on track in no time. It was great to see the team going at full steam this far into the journey, this may have been in part to the energy gels kindly provide by Arragons Cycle. As an extra incentive, we all looked back on the training guides provide by Alex Dowsett and Cyclism for hints to keep us going.

Our lunch stop was in Westerham and we had a feast involving lasagna, sandwiches, coffee, chocolate, and more coffee! After quick bike refit for Adrian Carrol by Bicycle Buddy and we were off on the last part of the day. Victoria, our communications manager, was busy writing our social media posts and Steve, our videographer, was editing the video footage which included shots from an action head cam. Look out for the completed edit soon…..

The afternoon flew by, the journey into Newhaven at dusk was a truly wonderful sight. A total of 82 miles, three punctures, three falls and a few diversions but the team really outdid themselves.

Now it’s time for an early night (ok, we may have a small glass of something) and then it’s off to Day Two and the the trip across the water to France!