Meet Ray, a 12 time Marie Curie cyclist
After losing his wife, June, to cancer in 2004, Ray Evans started volunteering at the Marie Curie hospice in Liverpool, where June was cared for at the end of her life. When the opportunity to cycle for Marie Curie became available in 2006, Ray decided to sign up for what would be the first of many Marie Curie cycles.
“I’ve been a cyclist all my life and it was ideal for me to cycle and raise money at the same time. The hospice was an unbelievable place for anyone to be cared for. Everybody from doctors down to cleaners and caterers were so compassionate, caring and dedicated. I couldn’t have asked for more and I wanted to give something back."
"Fundraising can be difficult but the fundraising team always help me out with everything I need, especially helping to get my sponsorship paperwork in order. I have a large network of family and friends so I get loads of sponsorship forms and pass them out to everyone. I have a next door neighbour who works on the offshore rigs who often comes back from the rig with £650 or £1500 for me on the sponsorship form. And it’s fantastic because the guys on the rig don’t know me at all. I was surprised that people do sponsor you even if they don’t know you, but they do when they know it’s for such a good cause.”
“I don’t have a training programme. I just try to get out on my bike almost every day. Sometimes I go out for an hour, sometimes for three or even longer depending on how I feel. The key is getting out regularly and getting in a longer cycle when I can. I like to warm up by cycling the first mile or two slowly in a low gear and then moving to my regular pace after that.
If I were to give training tips to newer cyclists, I would say to gradually build up the miles and know that your bike is in good order. Make sure the bike is set up to your own body. The small things like having the right frame size and ensuring the seat is at the right height can help prevent injury so is vital to get that sorted when you start cycling. And, make sure to learn how to use the gears properly so you don’t expend a lot of energy unnecessarily!”
Experience on the events
“All the rides I’ve done for Marie Curie have been fantastic in their own different ways. I have made many friends on these challenges and keep in touch with a lot of them, and quite often we meet up on subsequent rides. My most recent overseas cycle, Niagara to New York in 2015, was a hilly ride which a lot of people didn’t expect. The second day it pelted down with rain from the morning to the night and everyone was absolutely drowned. But there was no point in moaning because the weather is the weather, right? Everyone just encouraged each other and that experience strengthened the bond of the group.
My first cycle in 2006 was very emotional for me because being without my wife was still new, but it really felt like a fantastic achievement, too. I felt lots of mixed emotions, and I still do for all of the rides I have completed since, but it’s a great achievement to do something good to help other people living with a terminal illness and their families. Marie Curie cycles give me something to focus on year after year.”