Sheffield team’s charity ride inspired by mother’s cancer struggle

Team Margaret Bartles members (ltor) Andy Jackson, Simon Bartles and Jonny Wright warm down after their training ride in Heeley Millennium Park
Team Margaret Bartles members (ltor) Andy Jackson, Simon Bartles and Jonny Wright warm down after their training ride in Heeley Millennium Park

“We’ll have three pints of isotonic recovery beverage, please,” said Team Margaret Bartles, after their endurance ride up and down Derbyshire’s northern gritstone edges.

The team’s Saturday morning training culminated at the Brothers Arms beer festival where Simon Bartles and Andy Jackson of Heeley Development Trust and fellow team member Jonny Wright called in for a recovery beverage (aka pint of pale ale) after 40 miles of wind, rain, cold and ‘five serious hills’ - all in preparation for their upcoming 315 mile London to Paris cycle ride in May in aid of the Ovarian Cancer Action charity.

Simon’s mum, Margaret, died from ovarian cancer last autumn, and Simon and his sister Louise Hudson decided to enlist friends and colleagues to raise £5,000 for the charity’s research into treatment and diagnosis of a disease that affects 7,000 women in the UK every year.

“I hadn’t ridden a bike for 24 years, but I was surrounded by cyclists at work so it seemed the most appropriate thing to do,” said Simon. He made 200 yards of his first training ride, said mentor Andy Jackson, before grinding to a halt and having to go back for more food.

Since then he and Andy have been up at 7am for pre-breakfast sprints, and recently braved a 60 mile battle from Heeley to Lincoln - against a rare Easterly wind that had blown in for the day from Siberia.

“If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not working,” said Andy cheerfully.

Louise will be running the Yorkshire Half Marathon as part of the team, the Brothers Arms were taking donations throughout last weekend’s beer festival, and the nearby White Lion pub will be hosting a music festival to support Team Margaret Bartles on May 1 - any new additions to the team’s fundraising efforts are very welcome, said Simon.

The most important issue about ovarian cancer is early diagnosis, he said: the charity’s figures show that women diagnosed in the early stages of the disease have a 90 per cent chance of survival, which reduces to 22 per cent when diagnosed in the later stages, like Margaret.

“March was Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and we want people to learn about the symptoms and raise as much money as we can to improve diagnosis and research,” said Simon, adding that he and the team have no intention of being gloomy about ovarian cancer during their fundraising.

“My mum would have been very supportive, but knowing how hard I’m going to find it to ride to Paris, she’d also have found it really funny.”

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