Jacqui Robertson took on a road trip with a difference – and all for a great cause
Jacqui Robertson took a road trip with a difference. Yvonne Mckenzie finds out more.
WHEN Jacqui Robertson first found out about the “Women v Cancer” event, she felt compelled to take part.
The 250-mile cycle from London to Paris raises funds for three women’s cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Care, a cause close to her heart.
“A good friend of mine is in remission after a brave and hard-fought battle against breast cancer, and it was devastating watching her go through this,” Jacqui explains.
“I also worked in Roxburghe House in Dundee, a palliative care unit, during my training as a nurse, and it’s an amazing place full of inspiring people. Taking on this challenge allowed me to do my bit to help out.”
Tackling the 250-mile course wasn’t an easy feat.
“Prior to recently taking up cycling again, the last time I was on a bike it probably had stabilisers on!
“My reignited interest in cycling came about through sustaining an injury at the gym which led to spinal surgery.
“After my recovery I was wary of exercise, but thought cycling might be a good all-round activity. Before I knew it I was hooked, and I signed up for Women v Cancer.
“Throughout the three days of the challenge there were tears, tantrums – mainly when we saw another hill! – and a barrel-load of laughs.
“The girls I rode with shared personal stories, and we all gelled in a way I never knew was possible. Those girls kept me going.
“Cuddles were dished out when things got tough – and they did get very tough.
“Day one was the London to Portsmouth leg, which was nearly seventy-five miles. In the first seventeen miles I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew, as it was particularly hilly. I felt ready to quit almost from the start.
“It didn’t help that on the journey down there the car broke down, meaning I didn’t arrive at the London hotel for the starting point until two a.m. on the day of the race, so was tired before I even started.
“I was right at the back, and at one point it was only myself and one of the group leaders. The support staff had been watching me as they drove behind, and one asked if I had ever had problems with my spine.
“I couldn’t believe he had picked up on this. He made a few adjustments to the saddle height, and what a difference it made.
“It was still tough, but it helped me to continue. I cried when I reached Portsmouth!”
The second day was a flatter ride from Caen to Évreux, covering nearly 85 miles.
“The scenery was incredible. One of the first sights was the Pegasus Bridge.
“It was a beautiful and sunny ride, but later in the morning I suffered pain in the balls of my feet, which got worse as the day wore on. I have never felt pain like it, and arriving in Évreux was a huge relief.
“The final leg to Paris covered nearly ninety miles. The scenery was beautiful, but hilly. As the morning wore on, the pain in my feet intensified – so much so that I was in floods of tears and had to stop.
“Support staff tried adjusting my bike and, thankfully, it eased the pressure off my feet enough for me to carry on.
“In a strange way, this gave me the boost I needed, and I found myself taking on hills that I would normally fear.
“My sense of achievement escalated. Each time I pushed through the pain and mental barriers, I reminded myself that I have friends and family who have fought, or are fighting, cancer.
“An incredible support was reading the messages I had from loved ones on Facebook. I don’t think anyone will ever know just how much those messages kept me on the road.
“Arriving in Paris was phenomenal. We were met with cheers and applause, and I cried when my partner Dougie and his son met me at the finish line.
“I’ve raised more than £2,200 by taking part in Women v Cancer, and money is still coming in via my Justgiving page.
“I genuinely think that this cycle, even with all its ups and downs, has made me a better person.” ■
Jacqui with her fellow cyclists.
Jacqui still has time for a smile!