Surrey cyclist takes on 300-mile charity bike ride after 12-stone weight loss
This summer 31-year-old Helen Wiles will join a group of cyclists to take on a 300-mile, all-girl London to Paris bike ride in aid of children’s charity Action Medical Research. The four-day event would prove a big challenge for most women but for Helen it will be the latest achievement in a journey that has seen the human resources representative from Blackwater, near Camberley, lose more than half her body weight.
Back in January 2010 Helen weighed more than 22 stone and had reached the point where she could no longer climb the stairs without getting puffed out. She had been overweight for most of her life but with her 30th birthday on the horizon things had to change. Helen started an eating plan and combined with a new-found love of cycling lost more than 12 stone.
Helen says: “I felt self-conscious all the time. I hated shopping because none of the nice clothes fitted. Things like going to the theatre or cinema were embarrassing and uncomfortable because of the seats and just walking was exhausting. Enough was enough.
“I knew exercise would help me to lose weight more quickly but it was hard to get started. I lost about three stone before I felt able to get on a bike. But once I got over that first hurdle I was away. The more I cycled the quicker the weight came off and for my 30th birthday that May I got a lovely new bike!”
Since then Helen has joined the local Farnborough and Camberley Cycling Club and now rides around 40 miles every week. The London to Paris event, which raises money to fund medical research to help sick babies and children, will be her longest ride to date.
Helen adds: “I feel great now I’ve lost the weight and exercise for me is the key to maintaining it. Life has opened up so many opportunities and now I want to push my body like I never could before! I was a bit apprehensive about the challenge at first but a friend from my cycling club has done it before and now the charity is offering a new women-only route which is ideal for me. Cycling is very sociable and I’ve made a lot of new friends through it. I’m sure all the girls on the ride will have a great time.”
The London to Paris ride runs from 18-22 July, with the route passing through picturesque Kent countryside, before crossing the Channel to continue through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France. The ride reaches the French capital the day before the finale of the famous Tour de France and heads down the Champs Elysees to finish in style at the Eiffel Tower.
The event is part of the charity’s expansion of its cycling programme to appeal to the growing numbers of female cyclists in the UK. Action Medical Research will also be running three one-day rides for women as part of its DIVA100 series. These take place in Sussex (13 May), Scotland (20 May) and Warwickshire (27 May).
Research currently being supported by Action Medical Research includes work around meningitis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and premature birth, as well as some very rare and distressing conditions that severely affect children.
Anyone interested in joining Helen on the London to Paris ride can find out more at www.action.org.uk/paris or call 01403 327443.
You can sponsor Helen at www.action.org.uk/sponsor/helenwiles
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Action Medical Research - the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children - is celebrating 60 years of vital research in 2012. We’ve been funding medical breakthroughs since we began in 1952 and have spent more than £100 million on research that has helped save thousands of children’s lives and changed many more. Today, we continue to find and fund the very best medical research to help stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We want to make a difference in:
• tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
• helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
• targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.
But there is still so much more to do. Make 2012 a special year and help fund more life-changing research for some of the UK’s sickest babies and children.