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Even with broken ribs I would never, ever give up

David Hossack cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, but he never set out to raise any money for charity. Even after a painful injury, he was determined to see the trip through.

We asked him what compelled him to fundraise for Worldwide Cancer Research after completing his trip.

What inspired you to cycle almost 1000 miles across the country?

I’m always up for a good challenge. Last year I raised £3,000 for another charity cycling, but this year I wanted to give it a break from pestering friends and family about raising money. That’s what I originally intended, anyway.

What happened on the trip?

In December last year, perhaps as part of a mid-life crisis, I decided to sign up for a bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I’m never one to take the easy option, so I chose the ten day route rather than fourteen day one, meaning I would be cycling an average 98 miles a day and riding the equivalent of 1½ times the height of Mount Everest.

I trained over that winter, spring and early summer but then I had a serious mountain bike accident just 3 weeks before the start of my ride, and I ended up with serious bruising down from my groin down to below the knee. The doctor told me to rest fully for 4 to 6 weeks. He looked bemused when I told him ‘I’m cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in three weeks time!’ The only problem with my bravado was that for the first week after the injury I could hardly walk and for the remaining two weeks before my ride, through sheer pain, I only got out on the bike twice, which wasn’t enough training for this type of trip.

I set off in the sunshine from Land’s End, and I was really enjoying the trip, but on day three, (the 108 mile stretch from Bristol to Ludlow)  it all went badly wrong. Navigating onto a narrow country lane, I ended up in a gully, then flew off my bike, cracking a few ribs in the process. Cracked ribs are painful but with the help of painkillers and lots of them, I continued on my travels. We had another 750 miles to go, and this trip had cost me the best part of £2,000 already, so I wasn’t packing in now! I crossed over into Scotland on the sixth day.

"The Scottish roads are unforgiving when you have broken ribs”

I then cycled up to Perth, but the Scottish roads are unforgiving when you have broken ribs.  Someone did remark to me that it is no surprise I fell off my bike so often as I was too busy enjoying the beautiful countryside around.

Two more days to go, through Inverness, the gateway to the Highlands, and onwards to Lairg for the night, before the final 91 mile stretch to John O’Groats. I arrived at John O’Groats on a 19 rider peloton bike. I’d made it! After a great night to celebrate in the (only) bar in John O’Groats I left for the journey home, this time via the slightly easier methods of bus, plane and train. The next day I was straight off to the hospital where my injury was confirmed. The doctor again told me I needed to rest for 4 to 6 weeks. I told him I was cycling up the Alps in a few weeks! 

Made it to Edinburgh Castle

At Edinburgh castle

On your JustGiving page, your friends have commented that they “always knew you were mad.” What made you persevere with the trip despite your injuries?

It’s a personal thing that I apply to all aspects of my life. Even with broken ribs I would never, ever give up.

When you set out, you didn’t intend to raise any money for charity, what made you change your mind?

I think what I went through in terms of my injuries shifted my perspective a bit. After completing my trip I thought ‘I’ve gone through so much’ so I think people are more inclined to support you when you’ve gone through a lot to achieve your goal.  One night a few days after the trip, I woke up in the middle of the night in absolute agony. My ribs, still broken, were so painful after pushing myself during the trip. I decided there and then, that this amount of pain was definitely worth people donating for! I think people are more inclined to support you if you have a compelling story. I have a good friend who is involved in fundraising for Worldwide Cancer Research, whose scientists do absolutely stellar work in cancer research.

Do you think people ask their friends too often for sponsorship?

At the end of the day, with people contacting you about raising money almost on a daily basis, you have to do something which really convinces people to part with their cash. I think a barrier to people sponsoring their friends is that they know some of the money they donate will go towards the actual trip costs. In my case, I had already paid for the trip myself, which meant that every single penny raised would go directly to cancer research grants.

You can sponsor David on JustGiving.

Worldwide Cancer Research recommends that you adhere to the advice of a medical professional when attempting to undertake an event like David has. 

Communications Manager at Worldwide Cancer Research

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