Riding For The Trust – Ruth Gledhill
Having raised her family in Kew, Ruth Gledhill is all too familiar with the work of the Trust. RideLondon represents the opportunity for her to give something back, whilst also completing a few personal challenges.
Hi Ruth, would you tell us a bit about yourself?
A mum and step-grand mum, I am probably at the older end of people doing Ride London. When I was younger I was extremely competitive but now, at 63, have to accept that winning is not a realistic objective. So I am able to focus on other aspects, such as the sheer enjoyment of intense physical activity, making amazing new friends and being of service to others such as Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
I am finding it more rewarding now than I ever did as a young woman. I gave up on nearly all sport in my late 20s because I had an incredibly demanding career and also desperately wanted a family, which I found very difficult to achieve. Our son was born in 2001 so the next 20 years were spent on work and family, there was just no time for anything else. Then just before the pandemic I became critically ill, partly due I believe to my sedentary lifestyle, and spent nearly a month in the care of the incredible teams at West Middlesex Hospital. Lockdown was spent recovering from this frightening experience. Then I was asked to take part in a fundraising walk for a different charity, Cafod, that was on Strava, discovered parkrun and it all started from there.
What inspired you to take part in RideLondon on behalf of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust?
At Old Deer Park parkrun in Richmond I have met some people who are involved with Brentford FC which is our local club. Through my work in Hammersmith I also know a some lifelong Brentford fans and season ticket holders who with their families have been on the journey since the very beginning. The stories I am hearing are beyond compelling. Also having raised our son in Kew, my husband and I are aware of the enormous amount of community work that the club does in the area and the devoted loyalty it inspires in players and supporters alike. I can’t claim a long legacy of involvement with Brentford FC but just thought I would like to do my little bit to help.
Have you done any long-distance cycling challenges before? If so what event?
When I was a child, we lived in a remote village of 60 souls in Staffordshire. I would regularly cycle many miles every day to see friends, go to events in Uttoxeter six miles away and even go as far as Stafford. But I haven’t really done anything on the bike since then so this is a big development for me. As part of my journey to fitness, which in my head I rather optimistically refer to as “from couch to Kona”, I have joined Zwift and train on there regularly to build endurance. Everything has changed so much, the technology is fascinating and I love learning about heart rate, fitness zones and so on. I’ve just done one full length duathlon, at Dorney Lake, earlier this month. It had a 40k cycle segment. And last week I did a 74k ride in the Surrey Hills with my tri club, Ful-on Tri. Over the next few weeks I will be doing a longer ride every weekend to build up to the 100k.
What are you most looking forward to on the day?
I am looking forward most to being in such a large group, to seeing the many friends I’ve made who are doing RideLondon and simply being part of this great event.
Do you have any family, friends, or a group you go out cycling with?
I cycle on Zwift and have joined a team there that I also run with on Zwift. In real life, I cycle with Ful-on Tri and also with a little local cycle club, KCR or Kew Coffee Run, based at our independent cafe, Torelli’s. (Torelli KCR welcomes members, is free to join and can be found easily on Strava. The coffee and chat after our rides is such fun!)
What are your top tips for other people who are thinking about taking on a similar challenge?
Take it one step at a time. When I hobbled to Sainsburys for the first time with a walking stick, a few days after leaving hospital back in October 2019, I never dreamed that just a few years later I would be attempting something such as RideLondon. It took a lot of courage for me to get back on a bike after all these years, I was terrified on so many levels, but now am addicted to it, to the company of friends, the feel of the wind on my face, the lovely sense of exhaustion after a hard ride. We no longer have a car though, so I have had to brush up on the Highway Code. I am very safety conscious on the bike, have been on a maintenance course and have even learned to change a tyre after a puncture.
What message do you have for people who are supporting you by donating?
Just thank you so much. You could not be supporting a better cause. Brentford is the kind of place that makes dreams come true.
And finally, what’s the first thing you’re going to do after RideLondon?
After RideLondon, I’ll be training even harder for endurance events across all three sports of run, bike and swim and taking aim at whatever seems most achievable. I want fundraising for Brentford FC CST to be part of all this. I last did the London Marathon back in 1987, in a time of 3:38. It is tempting to try and have another go next year. We will see!
To follow Ruth’s journey and to support him with any donations, please click here.