Fundraiser profile

  • Dave Hampton
  • Age 52                  
  • Devoted Husband & Father     
  • Lover of Cycling & Golf     

On Thursday 4th October 2018 I registered for the Velo Birmingham and Midlands, a 100 mile closed roads cycle ride, taking place on Sunday 12th May 2019.

I ride to escape this world. I ride to find peace with myself. I ride to feel free and I ride to feel strong.

A love of cycling

My love for cycling started at a young age, acquiring a brand new racer on my 8th birthday. I always remember racing around the block against other boys from our estate. It was quite competitive at times, but also great fun. Cycling didn't materialise much from that point, even though my father was a keen and competitive cyclist in his younger days. I've heard many stories over the years of his days in the saddle. My father had a big influence on me finding my other love, golf, at the age of 10. Golf, along with an athletics club took up most of my leisure time during secondary school days.

Cycling only started again when I left secondary school and started work. Not being able to drive and finding the bus journey drawn-out, commuting by bike was the only other option. Now I'm not saying I've commuted every day for the past 36 years on two wheels, but I've done my fair share and in all kinds of weather.

Cycleshare scheme

My present employers signed up with cyclescheme in 2016. In brief, the cycle to work scheme is a UK Government tax exemption initiative introduced in 1999 to promote healthier journeys to work and reduce environmental pollution. It allows employers to loan out cycles and equipment to employees as a tax free benefit. The cost is spread over a 12 month period and huge savings are made. After this period the loan is complete and the employee then becomes the proud owner of the cycle and equipment.

February 2017, and at a half century old is when the pedals really started to turn for me.  Was it a midlife crisis? or was it the fact I loved cycling and generally liked to keep fit and healthy? Definitely the latter. I received my BMC teammachine ALR01 ultegra 2016 road bike, courtesy of the cyclescheme and my employers. With a Swiss made frame and consisting mainly of Japanese components, this was a fairly decent bike and nothing like I'd rode before, being extremely light and comfortable and handling exceptionally well. It made me feel safer in mechanical terms, when committing to more miles in the saddle than what I was normally used to. I started to go out cycling on just the odd weekend, as golf prevented me from committing to much more than that. I increased the mileage gradually, soon reaching 30 miles, then 40 and then up to 50. All those miles cycling alone, no one to talk to, just me pedalling away taking in the fresh air and admiring the beauty of the Worcestershire countryside without a care in the world.

First sportive

In September 2017 I took part in my first sportive. This offers both the seasoned racers and newcomers to the sport a challenge that can be as gruelling or straightforward as they wish. The location, Worcester and the Malverns, and deciding to take on the medium route at a distance of 45 miles, I found it tough, mainly due to the hills, nevertheless it felt very rewarding. I have competed in two more sportives since then, one a 58 miler in the Cotswolds, the other a 70 miler in Leicestershire. In summary sportives are a fantastic way to get into cycling, regardless of your ability and to meet other cyclists. Routes of varying distances are planned to suit all standards.

Training for the Velo

My training for the Velo is progressing fairly well apart from a couple of minor injuries picked up playing football, this has set me back a few weeks and now is the time to put the football to one side. I also suffer from osteoarthritis in the feet and ankles, no pain while cycling, just after the event, pain killers help ease this. Luckily the weather has been kind to us in the Midlands this winter, in fact quite extraordinary recently and long may it continue, thus enabling me to complete my training rides. A 60 miler in January, which also included approx 40 miles of the Velo route, good practice and knowledge of the route is always a bonus. Next up was 58 miles in mid February with plenty of climbing. Will try and fit a shorter route of 30-40 miles in before March 24th, when I'm entered in a locally run sportive of 70 miles. This route is very hilly with over 4,700 ft of climbing, so making it feel more like a 80-90 miler. Now the days are getting a little longer, I'm trying to do a few extra miles a couple of times a week straight after work, hopefully this will get me back to full strength and back on track after the injuries sustained earlier.

Cycling is not just about the legs, the muscles, the fitness or the stamina. Nutrition plays a big part in sport, especially those involving endurance. Taking on board the right foods, before, during and after exercise is vitally important to one's performance and recovery. Fluids are just as important and must be taken regularly. I take all this into account, even when planning and taking on a training ride and not just for a sportive. I am totally against the use of drugs in any sport. Drugs in cycling has been much-publicized ever since Lance Armstrong, once my cycling hero and the so-called winner of 7 consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999-2005 admitted to taking EPO (erythropoietin). EPO improves endurance by increasing the number of red blood cells, this in turn increases the metabolism and the healing process of the muscles because of the extra cells carrying more oxygen and nutrients.

The Tour de France is by far the biggest highlight of the pro-cycling calendar year. Lasting 3 weeks and covering in the region of 3,500 km (2,200 miles) it is the greatest tour of them all. It is an event that even the non-cyclist can easily be drawn into, as my wife will testify when she was introduced to the tour some 10 years ago. It's not just the thrills and excitement of the race or the pro-riders battling it out for the coveted yellow jersey. You have the beautiful regions of France, the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Alps and Pyrenees. How the riders manage to pedal, let alone race up the huge climbs and then descend the other side at such dangerously high speeds is totally beyond me. Here's me anxious about doing 100 mile in one day where these guys average well over 100 mile for most days of the 3 week tour. I take my hat off to them, total admiration. You need to watch it! Usually begins first weekend of July, TV coverage on Eurosport and ITV4.

I have visited France on a number of occasions to watch live stages of the tour and have had the pleasure of meeting top named Pros, great days, thoroughly enjoyable and memories never forgotten.

People often ask me why I ride and why the distances I do, and what do I get out of it. This phrase will sum it up: I don't ride my bike to win races nor do I ride to get places. I ride to escape this world. I ride to find peace with myself. I ride to feel free and I ride to feel strong.

Why Action Duchenne?

When I first signed up for the Velo, for some unknown reason charity never crossed my mind, it was just the thought of a challenge, a 100 mile cycle ride, something I'd never conquered before or even dreamed I'd ever do. As time went by thoughts came to mind. I questioned myself. Why was I doing this 100 mile bike ride? For myself? For my own satisfaction? Why for myself, when I can do it for others. Others who need help by way of funding. This was an ideal opportunity to help those people. Two particular charities are very close to me, but Action Duchenne first touched my heart in early January of this year, all through my love of golf.

The Golf Captain and Lady Captain chose Action Duchenne as their charity for 2019

A member of Halesowen Golf Club for the past 4 years, and an outstanding club and course it is, set in the Idyllic surroundings of the Leasowes, a 57 hectare estate comprising of house, gardens and parkland. The newly appointed Captain and Lady Captain chose Action Duchenne as their charity for 2019, with the Lady Captain being a grandparent of a child diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and linked with Action Duchenne, then this was a very special and obvious choice.

I will admit I'd never heard of DMD, muscular dystrophy yes. I looked more into DMD, it's history and it's facts. The facts are there for all to see: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a degenerative muscle wasting condition affecting around 2,500 children and adults in the UK: Duchenne is the most common and severe form of muscular dystrophy, over 99% of people affected are male: Children born with Duchenne are likely to need a wheelchair by the age of 12 and have significantly reduced life expectancy: There is currently no cure for Duchenne.

The emotions just poured through me and I soon filled up.

To say I was shocked at the facts was an understatement. I literally couldn't believe what I had read. I went on to watch a video, a mother's story. This did it for me, only a few minutes long, but long enough to have a considerable effect on me. The emotions just poured through me and I soon filled up. A story so sad and quite upsetting. I listened to another mother's story, this time as part of a group get together, you could see and feel the emotions run through the whole room as the story unfolded, the mother herself becoming distressed as she struggled to finish her story. It was very moving and clearly touched everyone's heart. I have spoken with parents of children diagnosed with DMD and have learnt much more about the lives they live. It has a considerable effect on everyone and completely changes the lives of all the family.   

It was at that group session that I first learned about Action Duchenne, and how it works and helps. A patient and parent led organisation that seeks to improve the lives of all those affected by Duchenne. Since 2001, when Action Duchenne was founded, the charity have funded vital for research, finding treatments, ensuring access to specialised care and eventually finding a cure for Duchenne.         

Supporting Action Duchenne                  

In the space of around 7-8 weeks I have learned so much about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Action Duchenne. The stories have all been deeply moving. Putting all of this together has inspired me so much, so much so that I want to help Action Duchenne and those affected by Duchenne. And what better way to support them, than by completing a 100 mile cycle ride. Donations will go a long way to improving the lives of so many and hopefully one day a cure will be found.

Many thanks for reading my story and here's to prosperous fundraising.

Check out Dave's fundraising page here.