There is something pretty amazing about being able to support people who are looking to offer more to this world, and we are really happy to bring this special post to you.
In this article we want to share the story of Matt, a guy from the UK who will be challenging himself to cycle over 300 miles from London to Paris on a Fixed Gear bicycle on behalf of the Bliss Charity, a UK charity for premature and sick babies that offer guidance and information at a critical time in families' lives and they also support ground-breaking research and campaign for babies to receive the best possible level of care regardless of when and where they are born.
Matt already raised his target of £1,500 to take part of his challenge, but you can still donate in the following link: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-LDN-2-PARIS
We asked Matt a few questions about his thoughts on his challenge.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am 33 years old, I am a Senior Design Technician for a local construction firm. I am married to my wife Amie, and we have a beautiful baby girl called Maddison. I have an unhealthy obsession with all things road and fixed gear cycling! I co-run the local fixed gear crew called Hull Fixed Gear, my other main interests are photography, art and traveling.
What is “Bliss”?: Bliss is a charity based in the UK, they are dedicated to the help and support required for babies born premature or born with illness'. They do this by being a support network to the worried and distressed parents whose babies are ill.
These parents are often thrown into a whirlwind of emotions such as guilt, helplessness, stress and sometimes bereavement. They have counselors available to meet & to talk to, to help the parents understand and process what is going on and what has happened to their babies. They also help & support the medical professionals with any concerns or counseling they may require due to the stress and trauma that they go through everyday.
What inspired you to get into a challenge for fundraising for Bliss? My daughter Maddison, she is my inspiration. She was born nearly 9 weeks premature due to complications from a health scare my wife was going through. I very nearly lost both of them! I really struggled at that time with coming to terms with what happened, and dealing with the stress of my baby girl being seriously ill in intensive care, and also my wife being seriously ill in Hospital at the same time. Bliss were on hand straight away, as a shoulder to cry on - someone to listen to me and answer my concerns when the Doctors weren't available.
I still have these struggles as due to Maddison's premature birth and the unfortunate circumstances at the time she was born she sustained damage to her brain which has led to her being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
Luckily my wife made a full recovery and now we are trying to raise Maddison to the best of her abilities, and watching her progress and develop is also a true credit to the staff at the Hospital and Bliss.
Why did you choose to make that London to Paris challenge by cycling? I have a true passion for cycling. It was an obvious decision.
As a kid I used to watch the Tour de France on TV and idolise these guys who could ride up mountains for hours at a time on just two wheels! That admiration set me up into my teenage and early adult years getting into BMX & Mountain Biking, to now where I predominantly ride Road bikes & Fixed Gear Bikes - I saw an article on the Bliss website about a group of people who did a similar challenge last year during the 2016 Tour de France. I turned to Amie my wife and said "I would love to do that, just to show my appreciation to Bliss", and straight away she said "I think you should!"... that was it - I decided there and then that I will train and prepare to raise funds and awareness for this great charity.
What do you love about cycling culture? It's like being part of a fraternity! I can be out on my bike doing a long hard 40 mile training ride on my own and I could meet a total stranger riding along the same route and you have that instant fellowship and understanding with each other! There is no bias or discrimination, it's all about being out on the road with that total appreciation of each other. I also love the comradely I have with the two clubs I ride for: Hull Fixed Gear and East Coast Bicycles. Of which regularly host Alleycat events and weekly club rides.
What do you expect from the cycling community before, during and after your challenge Support, well wishes and awareness. I think I have already raised some hype with the local fixed gear riders, and they have all commented on how envious they are whilst also thinking how crazy I am for doing this 4 day 300 mile ride on my fixed gear bike!
I am hoping to meet up with other riders in London, and en route to Paris who I can share my story with. All of whom I am hoping will share my journey on their social media accounts to raise awareness. I have found other cyclists and cycling enthusiasts are very forthcoming in helping other cyclists reach their goals and aspirations.
After my challenge I am hoping to get a photo book published journalling my story, from the start of my training in the cold winter months of December and January to the fundraising and then to the finish line at the Eiffel Tower... and hopefully this will inspire more people to jump on their bikes and go raise some needed money on behalf of their chosen charities.
Follow Matt on Instagram:
And please donate whatever you can to his cause:
All photos courtesy of Lee Cundill.