Land’s End to John O’Groats – via Cambridge

This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 77.

Campaign member Peter Davison is riding the End to End the long way round. He explains why.

Peter Davison is currently in training for his long ride. You can support him and his cause by donating on his website, cycling with him on part of the route or simply joining him for a cup of tea!
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The problem

In July 2005, I had an epileptic seizure – the first and so far the last I’ve had – while I was driving a car. The first I knew of it was when I woke up in hospital, having crashed into a roundabout. The doctors told me a brain tumour had caused the seizure. Since then I have had surgery, radio- and chemotherapy.

The treatment has been successful. I didn’t die that year, and I’m still here a couple of years later. The chances are, the tumour will come back one day…and then be operable … and then it’ll come back again. I will probably die twenty years earlier than a man of my genetic make-up, habits and environment would normally expect to.

I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle a bit. I had to sell my racing bike, which I used to use in mass-start triathlons. My balance is not good enough for those any more.

The ride

But I can still ride a touring bike, and I’m doing that in May on the classic British route, the ‘End to End’. I’m popping in en route to visit the hospitals that have so far treated me, and those that daily treat my fellow sufferers. So instead of turning north at Bristol, I’ll be riding through southern England to Portsmouth General before visiting central London (National Hospital for Neurosurgery) and then Cambridge (Addenbrooke’s). I’m hoping that will draw quite a lot of attention:

  • I’m no longer as young as I once was.
  • It’s an unusual route.
  • I have the scars to prove that I’m doing this ride against fairly long odds!

The cause

Assuming I manage to get some attention, what will I be saying? I’ll be pointing out that while focusing healthcare and research spending on high-incidence and high-mortality conditions looks sensible, there are additional factors that need to be taken into consideration. One of these is ALLY – Average Lost Life Years.

“I’m doing the classic British ‘End to End’ route, popping en route to visit the hospitals that treated me after a brain tumour, and those that daily treat my fellow sufferers.”

Brain tumours are like leukaemia and cervical cancer. They catch people and kill them as kids and in young middle age. Unlike many of the more common cancers, brain tumours take away DECADES of a patient’s life. They place an incredible burden on the life of the person with the disease, on their partner or carer, and on society in general. So I’ll be dropping in not only at Addenbrooke’s to see my doctors, but at the House of Commons to see my (our) MP and get my message across.

How Cambridge Cycling Campaign members can help

Of course I want to raise more than just awareness. Money lubricates everything. I’m collecting for Brain Tumour UK, for Addenbrooke’s and for the newly re-sited Cambridge Cancer Help Centre at Scotsdales in Great Shelford.

Peter Davison will be arriving in Cambridge on 22 May, coming in through Shelford and across the fields to Addenbrooke’s.
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Wherever I go I’ll be highly visible (which matters, if you’re on a bike) and if cyclists, tumour patients, doctors or the media want to talk to me, I’ll try to muster more than just a grunt in return. If companies want to sponsor me they can have their name on my cycling shorts, cap, back, chest, panniers… you name it, just not a tattoo.

To the cycling community in particular: please do come out for a cup of tea, or to drop a fiver in one of my panniers; or donate or check out my itinerary at and ride in front of or behind me en route.

I’ll be arriving in Cambridge late on 22 May, coming in through Shelford and across the fields to Addenbrooke’s, where I’m expecting a bit of a reception at Oncology, before the long ride north.

Peter Davison