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Project Barbara gets underway

By Andrew Brown, posted 11 January 2018

Contact on twitter @justridethebike

Andrew's got a new cycling challenge for 2018. in memory of his mum, and in aid of Alzheimer's Society. 

This year I have set myself the challenge of riding 240 miles over three days as a tribute to my mother. She died peacefully last June,  following several years suffering from vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. My journey is in effect a ‘memory ride’, taking its lead from the Alzheimer’s Society and their programme of ‘memory walks.

The Right thing to do

For me cycling is stimulating, thought provoking and keeps me healthy – physically and mentally. My instinct is that I need to keep moving. I need to keep stimulating my brain. And I want to do something worthwhile at the same time. This ride for my mother, Barbara Brown, feels the right thing to do.

It is also a personal challenge. I struggle with balance in my life. Not in a way that is anti-social, but in a way, that could be improved. I do not put enough effort into being fit. I do not put enough effort into learning, reading and absorbing information and stimulating my brain. All things that anyone ageing, or at risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s needs to be doing. So, this cycling charity challenge is not just the ride, but fitting in the training (lancing any latent prevarication), preparation, fundraising and publicity and then just doing it. I’ve put pressure on by setting a date in the first half of the year – 19 May 2018 is the prospective start date.

The Route

The route is from my home in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire to Bishopsbourne in Kent. It is around 240-miles over three days. It will take in Bishop Otter College in Chichester where my mother studied to be a teacher; then across Sussex and into Kent where as a family we also spent happy times as children; then ending in Bishopsbourne, which was the location of my mother’s first job and ironically, were she decided she didn’t want to be a teacher after all!

My plan is to ride my bike and build up my mileage and strength, putting together long days in the saddle back to back. I’m not quick. 80 miles, or 140 km is at least a seven-hour ride for me (read the blogs to find out how I get on). So, training between now and Easter will be interesting. I’m calling the ride Project Barbara. The training schedule is on the fridge. Watch out for more occasional updates via JRtB and Twitter and please check out the Project Barbara Just Giving page.

The Reason

Please read up on dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is far more common than you think.There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051. Reports suggest that 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that's one every three minutes. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.  I’ve not met anyone since starting to talk about my mother that has not also had an experience related to this disease that takes the people we love away from us mentally often well before they leave us physically. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or any other type of dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition, saving 30,000 lives a year.

Dementia research is desperately underfunded. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is over £30,000 and yet only £90 is spent on dementia research each year.

Think it over, support my bike ride and donate please. Thanks.

Credit: Alzheimer's Society, 2018

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

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