Today’s #fundraiserfriday is the winner of our Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 VIP Experience Prize Draw. Jeff Ashton is taking on the spectacular 100 mile cycle in July this year and is taking it on for Asthma UK as part of an even bigger challenge.
Jeff Ashton is taking on two cycling challenges this year. The first of these was the Fred Whitton Sportive which took place on 8 May and is said to be the toughest in the UK. The ‘Fred’ is a 112 mile hill route with over 12,000 feet of climbing and a real test of endurance – no matter what the weather. Jeff tells us that he saw the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 as offering “a different test in the most contrasting surroundings as a closed roads event, something I have never done before.”
As is often the case, Jeff chose his charity because of a personal reason. In his case, in fact, he chose Asthma UK for two personal reasons. Jeff’s friend’s mother had a double asthma attack and died very young which, he says, was a real shock to all who knew her. Then in 1997, Jeff experienced a drive to the hospital which he says was one of the worst moments of his life. After his then girlfriend, now wife, police officer Alex, had chased a burglar through a stream in Bradford, she complaimed of feeling unwell. Jeff tells us;
“Due to not realising the seriousness of the situation I went out to a prior engagement at the Town Hall. A couple of hours later, two colleagues came and dragged me out of the meal as Alex had been rushed to Bradford Royal Infirmary in a very poorly state.”
When Jeff arrived at the hospital after this awful drive, he was told Alex had had a severe asthma attack and had come very close to not making it through. He says “You can imagine the mixture of emotions running through me, relief, guilt, bewilderment to name but a few.” Alex was told it was likely that she had suffered from Asthma for some time but it had been misdiagnosed as simply not being fit. One year later, Alex was once again rushed into hospital after experiencing another severe attack. After this, Alex’s asthma stabilised and the couple ran the Great North Run for Asthma UK and, despite “abandoning her in her hour of need“, they married in 2004.
Getting ready for the event
Jeff has been training for his double cycling challenge by doing midweek intervals and long rides at the weekend. His friend, who is an ex-pro racer, has been pushing him to get rac ready and Jeff admits that the intervals, especially the ‘full gas’ ones, are “absolute torture“.
He has put just as much effort into his fundraising, using social media to push his fundraising page to family, friends and work colleagues and as well as “thrusting a sponsor sheet under people’s noses” and taking every opportunity to remind people of ways they can donate. Jeff tells us;
“My latest idea is to let everybody know that if I raise the £700 target or more before the event on 31st July, I will publicly have my legs waxed like a real road cyclist! I think I will be hitting my target as there are a lot of people who want to see me suffer on and off the bike. One kind soul has asked how much would it cost to see me have an all over body wax! Watch this space..”
Jeff says he can’t wait to cross the line to see his daughter and her boyfriend in the Granstand – one of the prizes he won as part of the Virgin Money Giving exclusive updgrade – as well as watching Alex cross the finish line safely, proving that Asthma doesn’t need to stop you doing things you love in some cases. He finishes by saying
“I hope all the entrants get round safely and in one piece. Even training rides can be dangerous, Alex came off last week over a cattle grid and lost some skin and gained some fantastic bruises but thankfully nothing broken.”
How you can help
You can support Jeff by donating to Asthma UK via his Virgin Money Giving page.