An Ordinary Bloke on a Bike

Published date: 11 July 2024
Coventry Coventry cycling Fundraising Fundraising news

After choosing cycling to improve fitness during his retirement, Bill Ross never thought this would result in conquering one of tour de France’s most gruelling climbs.  

Since finding his love for cycling 7 years ago, Bill is no stranger to a challenge for Zoe’s Place as he has previously completed Lands End to John O’Groats in 2021 and ‘Tour de Zoe’s’ in 2022 raising nearly £10,000. He has also built himself up quite the fan base on YouTube and is known as ‘an ordinary bloke on a bike’. It was while completing Lands End to John O’Groats that the idea of France end to end was discussed as over half the group were looking for their next challenge, however being conscious that his following would only donate if the challenge were much greater, Bill needed something more, the route needed to incorporate the ‘Beast of Provence’!  

With a training plan set and his France end to end trip booked, disaster occurred. Bill injured his back, and the trip was in doubt. It soon became apparent that Bill needed major back surgery. A very emotional Bill thought he was letting all at Zoe’s Place down as that was it, challenge off! Or so we thought! 

After a rollercoaster of a week and with the doctor’s advice being to continue with his normal activities (riding a bike for long period of time was now very normal for Bill!), the trip was back on! 

Sunday 24th September 2023 Bill and the rest of the 15 cyclists taking part in this Pedal Britain challenge, woke to a windy St Marlo. Spirits were high, although for Bill a slight feeling of frustration with his injury. He had missed out on 3 months of training, and he did not feel ready. 

A difficult 73 miles were completed on the first day in strong headwinds, but things were kept positive as a good night’s sleep, and everyone would be ready to go again.  

The positivity continued into day 2, Bill was getting his head around changing his riding speed to match his new ability, was feeling good and his fitness was building. 

However, as the days passed, he often found himself towards the back of all the riders and often on his own. Being on his own meant time to think! The demons in his head were turning what he thought would be a big physical challenge into much more of a big mental challenge. 

The Positive feelings during the first few days meant he had started to push himself too hard and on day 4 the symptoms of his back injury were no longer being controlled by his pain medication. Bill realised in order to complete this challenge he needed to adopt a new style of riding. He started to use only one leg, taking the pressure away from the side affected by his injury. In Bill’s words, his left leg was clipped in and was just coming along for the ride! 

As the days passed and the temperature rose, Bill soon found that he wasn’t the only ‘back marker’ of the group and was more frequently getting company on his rides. He also soon realised that those he found waiting for him to catch up weren’t doing so out of pity, they needed those breaks too! 

However, the demons had not been beaten just yet, by Day 7, the halfway point, thoughts of giving up were circling around Bill’s head and if not giving up then that Mont Ventoux was just going to be impossible. 

The rollercoaster continued as the group got to day 9, which could only be described by the whole group as a day of ‘cycling miles with cycling smiles’ and feeling much more positive even though the biggest challenge of the trip, day 11 was fast approaching.  

Day 11 was the day of Mount Ventoux! After a 2 hour climb the famous white tower was in sight and with a well-timed message from back home, it all got very emotional with feelings of giving up completely gone, and those negative thoughts changing to thoughts of not wanting the trip to end! 

But end it did, with all 15 members of the group joining together for the final 7-mile push to reach the ‘# I Love Nice’ sign and finish the challenge as one team! 

900 miles over 14 days completed and made extra special with over £7700 being raised for Zoe’s Place! A truly fantastic amount that will go a long way to support children and their families to live life to its fullest! 

3 weeks after the trip and back in the UK Bill’s back surgery was successfully completed, although advised that there was a long recovery ahead there is no stopping Bill! He was back on his turbo trainer by Christmas, which was quickly followed by being back on his bike outdoors, and most recently Bill completed Wales end to end in June 2024!  

Has Bill inspired you to get on your bike to raise money for Zoe’s Place? Then why not join us for the Starley Sportive. Returning to the Coventry event calendar on Sunday 22nd September Zoe’s Place has free spaces available now for all three distances! Click the link below to discover more. 

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