Michael Hehner and I completed the Tour du Lac Leman on Sunday, 22nd September and in doing so raised CHF 3,884 for the childhood cancer charity Zoé4Life.
I took this picture (Matt and Zoe) in Rolle, about 150 km into the ride. Behind me on the banner you can see the eponymous Zoé with her smile and big yellow glasses. It was her and her family’s story that inspired my trip.
I learnt about Zoé4Life’s work sitting in the oncology ward just after my daughter Emily’s cancer diagnosis. It was deeply affecting to know that there was an organisation out there that was fighting our fight. It was difficult to read about Zoé at that time, but I marvelled at the strength it must have taken – and no doubt continues to take – to turn a
tragedy into a triumph. It was this mixture of grief and admiration and gratitude that inspired me to do the ride.
Having endured a second operation in May, Emily received a tentative All Clear from her oncologist a few days before September, which is also childhood cancer awareness month. I had cycled around Lake Geneva once before with my brother and enough time had passed since that ordeal to make it seem like a good idea to do it again. I discussed the idea with Emily and she encouraged me to go for it. Fortunately my friend Michael
agreed to join me. As well as being a skilled mechanic, he cycled 4,000 kms over the summer and is almost impervious to pain. An ideal partner for the road ahead.
We set off at around 6.30 from St Sulplice and rode to Lausanne. It was cold and there was a slick of rain on the road, but the sky turned a beautiful ash-blue as we rode along the Corniche and it was fully light as we ate breakfast Vevey. Apart from a brief detour in Montreux for photos with Freddy Mercury’s statue, we didn’t stop again until we reached Evian. I was dreading the narrow roads and heavy traffic on the French side, but they have a new cycle path which snakes through quiet back roads. It was a huge improvement on last time, except for the cobblestones through Thonon. Those I could have done without.
We bought sandwiches in Collonge before rounding the lake and attacking the hills. Michael is a expert in this terrain and I fell behind him on every climb. It was both funny and rather annoying to watch him cycle along with his heads behind his head while I struggled to close the 100-metre gap that separated us. The last stretch was tough, but here was a fridge of cold beer calling our names and we reached in the end, 9 hours after we set out and 173 kms later.
For me, the most satisfying part of the ride was the money we raised for Zoé4Life. These donations will bring hope to a family like mine sitting on an oncology ward, terrified of what this diagnosis will mean.
On behalf of that family, thank you.
Start training now because Matthew’s looking for people to join him in 2020!