For 62-year-old Garth Taylor, cancer survivor and Parkinson’s Disease victim, it was the memory of his late father’s own suffering as a First World War veteran that gave him the emotional and physical ability to ride 100 miles for charity.
Earlier this month, Taylor joined more than 25,000 cyclists in the 100-mile journey from London to Surrey and back again to cross the finish line in the Prudential RideLondon in the Mall.
Taylor, a retired civil servant who lives in Lee, in Lewisham, lost his 74-year-old father when he was just 19. It was this, he told Eastlondonlines, that helped motivate him to complete his challenging ride.
“The whole thing was very emotional,” said Taylor. “I couldn’t help thinking about my dad at the end. He lost a leg in the Battle of Arras in 1917 and suffered from his wounds throughout his life without complaint. He has been a great source of inspiration for me during my illnesses.”
Taylor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 and advanced bowel cancer in 2011, although after four major operations and two rounds of chemotherapy, he is clear of cancer for the first time in nearly four years.
Since his diagnosis, he has completed one fundraising ride a year, raising a total close to £6,000.
The RideLondon event started at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and followed a route on closed roads through London and into Surrey’s countryside, before finishing at The Mall.
Taylor was raising money for Beating Bowel Cancer, the charity that helped him in his recovery. He also wanted to show people that an active life after cancer is possible.
“I hope to encourage fellow cancer suffers to set themselves sporting goals and to show that even if you have got the disease great things are still possible.
“Cycling kept me going. It made me fit and strong enough to get through all the surgery and speeded my rehab and recuperation. Most importantly it kept my morale up through the bad times,” Taylor added.
Taylor trained for the ride with the help of close friend Roger Stocker and the Beating Bowel Cancer team.
Talking about his reasons for supporting the charity, Taylor said: “Beating Bowel Cancer provide advice and support for patients and lobby for improvements in care. I went to one of their patient days and was impressed by their belief in treating the individual rather than the disease.”
Taylor moved to Lee in Lewisham with his two sons 35 years ago when his wife Catherine got a job as a teacher at Northbrook school.
Taylor said: “It’s been hard dealing with the cancer and Parkinson’s at the same time, but my family have been a great support to me throughout.
“I’ve been a cyclist for years but I’d never done anything like RideLondon in front of such huge crowds and along the Olympic course itself.”
“The ride was very hard I had some trouble with the hills and was really tired and cramping up on the final leg back into town. The crowds were fantastic and their cheering, along with my feeling of responsibility to my sponsors kept me going. I was one of the last to finish, but finish it I did.”
He now hopes to soon publish a novel he wrote during his recovery.
World Cup-winning rugby players Martin Johnson and Matt Dawson, model Jodie Kidd, singer Sam Bailey and TV presenters Jenni Falconer, John Inverdale and Jonathan Edwards also took part in the Prudential RideLondon 100.
For more information or to sponsor Garth please visit www.justgiving.com/GarthTaylor.
By Scarlett Alexander