Mr. Philip Lear - who is the national coach for England and also an AETF Board Member met Lawrence McCormack and Jim Bull during Taekwon-do training many years ago. These fine men have decided to ride a tandem bike and make a trip from Big Ben, London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It may start as an interesting story about sportsmanship, but the reason they choose to take the ride is the most important: these 3 Taekwon-do practitioners from Crowborough, East Sussex, England have took up the gauntlet in the big fight against one of the worst illnesses on Earth.
They all have personal reasons to join the battle: while Lawrence (a blue belt) had recently recovered from throat cancer, Philip’s mother (who is living in France) has been diagnosed and being treated with lung cancer, while James (3rd Degree) has already done a similar ride to Paris before for the Royal Marsden Hospital on a conventional bike, and was intrigued by the tandem bike idea.
They plan to do the trip all by themselves: one of the three will always drive a van close to the bike as backup and support, while the other two will work hard on their way to the French capital, they plan to do rotate riders, so they can “rest” whilst driving in the automobile.
I have made a short interview with Mr. Lear for this occasion:
Who gave the main idea for this trip, why?
Back in 2013 Lawrence was diagnosed with throat cancer and was told he needed urgent treatment, during the same time my mother who lives in France was also diagnosed, but with lung cancer. I was travelling back and forwards to Paris to see my mum and also every now and again I would help Lawrence get to his hospital appointment and went for walks with him to help him with exercise.
We would talk during his walks and he was very negative about the outcome, however we kept talking and he eventually said that when he recovers that he would like to do something for charity, like a bike ride. I agreed and that’s where the idea came about. From there the idea grew to a Tandem Bike so it would be different from what others have done in the past and then as we were looking at having a support vehicle travelling with us we thought it would be good to have a 3rd person with experience of long bike rides and so we asked Jim who jumped at the chance. After talking with my mum we decided that we would try to split the sponsorship between Cancer Research and Gustave Roussy (the hospital that have treated my mum in Paris) as they have really helped her through some very tough times to the point now where she is recovering very well.
Were you always fond of riding bycicles?
I hate bikes! I’ve never liked them. Why ride a bike when you have a car? But seriously every year I try to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. I always believe that it’s so easy to let your life drift along doing the same things every day, week, month and year and before you know it you’re too old to do things. So I always set myself things that are a challenge and things that force me to do things slightly out of the everyday ordinary things.
When was the first time you have tried the tandem bike?
About a month ago, it’s a very different and strange experience, you ride a tandem completely differently to a conventional bike, but it’s great as you have to work together and you can have some good chats about Life, The Universe and Everything!
Do you need extra phyisical conditioning as preparation for the trip apart from your taekwon-do trainings?
We are out either on our bikes or the Tandem as much as possible right now, we need to be able to do about 100kms a day so it’s hard work and I have to fit it around all the classes that I teach. But it’s just another motivation to stay fit, as GM Bos says we should always be an example to our younger practitioners.
What are the two institutes can use the donated money for?
Both Cancer Research UK and Gustave Roussy are very clear what they use their funds for. Cancer Research use the money from anything like glass slides to analyse cancer cells to opening new research centres in the bid to find cures for cancer. Gustave Roussy use their money in a similar way, they already have many donations to their children’s ward where we wanted to donate initially and they said it’s in fact the richest part of their group, they wanted the money for their own Research and Gustave Roussy are a world renowned Cancer Hospital where people from all across Europe go for treatment.
A message from Mr. Lear for those who practice Taekwon-do and for who does not:
Cancer does and will affect every single person in the World at some stage in their life either through a family member, a friend or even themselves. We have lost many TKD people and non TKD people to many cancers in the past however we also know of amazing and inspirational stories of adults and children who fight back and they fight back because they have organisations like Cancer Research UK and the Hospital Gustave Roussy behind them, giving treatment, supporting families. When people hear for the first time they have cancer, time freezes. All the problems of the past no longer mean anything, all of their hopes and dreams are shattered, until people start doing things to show them support, that we want them to get better that we want to find cures that we want to give them hope.
There are these three crazy Englishmen trying to do a mad thing of riding 250 miles (400Kms) on a two seater bike. One person is fully fit, one has recovered from throat cancer and the other is still recovering from a knee operation earlier this year. Nothing will stop us, we will complete the challenge but we ask all our friends across Europe to help us raise as much money as possible so we can promote this event and give those people who are battling cancer the belief that they will get better and they will pull through. That is what we are asking.
We would like our European friends to help in anyway they can with a donation of whatever they can afford as everything counts towards the big total. We would love to hit £10,000 and €10,000 for each of our charities. Thank you for your help.
The trip will take place between 23rd and 27th July, 2015.
The trio have their two fundraising projects on the Internet for Cancer Research UK and Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus, Paris, where you can donate in Euros:
You can read more about the project, support them, cheer for them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tandemtrek2015
Please join us wishing them great success and donate for this incredible initiative!