Taking part in the RideLondon cycling event is no mean feat. Participants face a challenging 100 miles from East London to Pall Mall in South West London.
It is people like Dorothy-Anne who inspire others to play their part in the fight against dementia. Here, 73-year-old Dorothy-Anne, who lives with dementia, shares her experiences from the day and reflects on what she’s grateful for.
At school. I was the tubby swat, always picked second-to-last for teams.
But as I stormed up The Mall on my second-hand mountain bike to complete 46 miles round London, I felt myself an athlete at last at 73 years old.
To what do I owe this amazing turn round? Whom should I thank?
I’d like to thank… the NHS mental health services who diagnosed Alzheimer’s Dementia three years ago so I could give up committee work and get out more. And the doctor who encouraged me to continue cycling.
I’d like to thank… the DVLA who withdrew my driving licence, which forced me to use my bike for independent shopping and visiting.
I’d like to thank… a group of friends who cycled around Somerset with me over the last few months.
I’d like to thank… a couple who gave us hospitality 12 miles from the start of the RideLondon event on 29 July.
I’d like to thank… the RideLondon disability support who persuaded my husband he could drive me to the start and kept me sane when we arrived. This was needed as it was only as we got to the start that I realised I had left my backpack containing my vital event tag on the bedroom floor.
I’d like to thank… my husband who found his way around the closed streets back to fetch my tag and got it to me just in time. As he departed on this almost impossible errand, I had time to consult my phone and see the vicar’s wife was praying for me. I remembered many others who were doing the same.
Ready, set, go!
I ate the second muffin of the morning, cooked for me by a friend who had experience of serious cycling events. It was very solid and took a long time.
I joined my group – green wave L – just as they were moving to the start.
Other groups got a send off on the public address system, but we found ourselves wobbling off asking each other whether we had really started.
I was given a late start time, which meant I had to ride 27 miles in just over 2 hours to qualify to continue for the full 100 miles.
My bike was heavy. The road was crowded. The weather was wet, and getting my wet things off for a comfort stop took a long time. I missed the deadline by half an hour.
After all my training, I was confident of my ability to complete the offered alternative; 46 miles without physical or mental stress. I was concentrating on avoiding potholes and other cyclists, but still had time to enjoy memories as I went through familiar streets.
There are many others whose support I needed and appreciated; from my family to the marshall who picked me up and got me going when I fell.
I now have a splendid medal and a level of fitness beyond what I ever thought possible.
You can live well with dementia but you do need a lot of wonderful people to be there to help.