Peter Berry talks about how he feels about doing the Dementia Help Cycle Challenge and why it’s important to raise awareness of how the condition affects younger people
I am glad to be cycling with friends during the Dementia Help Cycle Challenge. Jan Dodd will be cycling alongside me for every single mile over the six days. Jan is well-placed to complete the challenge. She recently completed a 100-mile cycle ride in one day and is a very keen cyclist. Her husband Dave has Alzheimer’s so she knows how the condition affects families. Dave had to give up work when the condition took hold and Jan has retired in order to care for him. Jan will know only too well that cycling offers great psychological benefits, as well as making a person feel physically healthier. On the last few days of the challenge, we’ll also be joined by Jon Bray from cycling retailer Sax Velo (https://www.sax-velo.co.uk).
The last leg of the challenge should be easier as it will be flatter. It’s great for me to have support as the challenge is a challenge for anyone… but even more taxing for somebody like me who has Alzheimer’s. It’s not just about a guy who’s fit cycling across the country. It’s a whole different ballgame. There’s going to be different environments, different routes, different overnight stays. Those environments will be challenging for me. If it’s a challenge for a normal person, for a person with Alzheimer’s it’s going to be a huge challenge.
A great experience
I am a little concerned but I have come to thinking that if your dreams don’t scare you just a little bit then they aren’t really big enough! Sometimes you’ve got to go out there and just push the boundaries. As it grows closer, I’m getting a little apprehensive and there are days when I think: ‘Wow, what have I got myself into?’ but then I know it will be a great experience and one I shall never forget. It’s all about challenging my dementia and helping others to challenge their dementia as well. It’s about helping others to do positive things. Whether it’s walking, gardening, running – it doesn’t have to be cycling. Just getting out there and being who they used to be for a time and not what they have become.
I have chosen to raise funds for YoungDementia UK as it’s one of the charities that focuses on people living with dementia under the age of 65. The trouble is that everything is geared up – including the benefits system – to older people with dementia. There are a great number of people living in Britain who have dementia in their fifties. These are people with mortgages and financial commitments.
The challenge will be something I’ll never forget and I’m so glad to have the support of Jan Dodd and Jon Bray. Jon’s training and nutrition advice has been invaluable. I know I’m going into this feeling very well prepared thanks to his continued support. The team at Sax Velo really have been amazing – nothing is too much trouble. Without Jan and Jon, I wouldn’t be able to do this challenge.
To donate to the Dementia Help Cycle Challenge, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TeamDementiaHelp