Tŷ Hafan dad, James Meacham has already braved the cold riding his bike from Cardiff to Paris and has battled tough terrain cycling to Dublin. This March, James once again planned to take on Tŷ Hafan’s Ride to the Rugby, cycling to Paris where his challenge first began. However, due to the current pandemic, the event has now turned virtual.
Between 1-20 March, James, along with many other participants, will cycle 320 miles, the distance that he would have been covering cycling to Paris. Hear all about his journey from James himself:
I have to be honest, I never thought I’d become a cyclist! I first heard of ride to the rugby while we were staying at Tŷ Hafan with Thomas, sometime in 2018. Having never been a cyclist but an average gym goer and very part time runner, I thought it would be a great challenge and convinced my mate and my cousin it was a good idea.
So we all bought bikes and started training. It soon became apparent that road cycling is hard work! A few training rides with the wider team, lots of winter miles, and January 2019 soon arrived. The buzz as myself and the other 39 cyclists departed from Cardiff was something else. The weather was really against us on that day, but we ploughed on as a team and got there. The rides are so well organised both on and off the road, from the feed stops or roving support van, to the team captains who keep everyone safe and moving (and upright) that it’s a real feel good adventure!
After a ferry trip and more cold weather riding, we arrived in Paris! The atmosphere was electric, rugby fans cheering us on as we rode the same cobbles as the Tour de France – that feeling will stay with me for a long time. Video calling my wife Sarah and son Thomas in the hospice brought a few tears.
So based on that wonderful experience, it didn’t take much for me to sign up for Cardiff to Dublin – ride to the rugby 2020. Once again we had a few group training rides, and it speaks volumes that this time we had an unofficial “Team Thomas” of about 10 participants, rather than 3 the year before. We lined up in Cardiff and headed west… who knew West Wales was so hilly! Meeting in a pub outside Dublin, sharing a beer, then cycling to the Aviva with a big group of mates is such an awesome feeling, it doesn’t fade.
That trip was different on an emotional level because seven months before, Thomas passed away peacefully in the hospice, so my reasons for doing it were slightly different – from being a user of Tŷ Hafan, to wanting to ensure they can continue to support families like mine.
The highlight of that trip was being asked if we’d be ok with the team captains organising a “Thomas Meacham” award and asking me present it to the “rider’s rider” of the tour.
It’s a very special trip for lots of reasons.
Despite the event having to be virtual this March, James promises to still put the same passion and motivation into completing the 320 miles he would have covered cycling to Paris.
Tŷ Hafan’s virtual Ride to the Rugby allows riders of all levels and experience to take part in this ambitious adventure. Tŷ Hafan staff member, Kelly Dibble has not been on a bike since 1994 but was “inspired to wipe off the dust” when she heard of this event.
Kelly explained that: “During the pre-Christmas lockdown, I bought a static bike which has been gathering dust in my conservatory, much to my husband’s annoyance. I’ve been using it to hang washing on”. As a non cyclist, Kelly thought the idea of riding a bike to Paris was rather daunting but “provides a perfect challenge” to complete whilst “staying warm, safe and dry at home over 20 days”.
Kelly has worked out that she would need to complete around 16 miles a day and hopes “to raise some much needed funds for Tŷ Hafan’s refurbishment and get to Paris by the 20 March in time to watch the game comfortably on the sofa,” she explained.