When cancer struck with a horrifying suddenness, it seemed the end of the sporting lifestyle that Steve Chittenden has always loved. A karate expert, marathon runner and keen cyclist, Steve was stunned to be told he had an advanced state of myeloma cancer for which there is no known cure.
Now, at 62, he is awaiting a stem cell transplant. But that has not deterred battler Steve from setting his sights on a new sporting target – a 15-mile sponsored bike ride. He is training for Hospice in the Weald’s annual Wheels Around The Weald cycle run on April 18 to raise funds in gratitude for the support he has received from the hospice.
Already, Steve, from Rotherfield, a father of three, has managed to complete a 17-mile training run although, he admits, that was all on the flat.
“I realise it is going to be a struggle for me in the Wheels event,” he says, “but I am determined to take part even if it means having to get off my bike and walk some of the hills.
“I cannot praise enough the assistance I have had from the clinical nursing team at the hospice, helping with my pain relief and offering counselling and support to myself and my wife Liz. I never realised just how much the hospice gives to both patients and families, and all for free. I appreciate this an awful lot so, while I still can, I decided to do something that will help myself and other cancer sufferers that the hospice cares for in many ways.”
Anyone wanting to support Steve’s run can donate at www.justgiving.com/steve-chittenden. And it’s not too late for cyclists to join him on Wheels Around the Weald. He says: “This is a really enjoyable way to raise much needed funds and have a nice day out in the countryside.”
Steve, who worked in a bike shop until his illness, has some sound advice for anyone wanting to keep fit by taking up cycling. “Don’t buy a bike below the £200 mark – they tend not to last as the quality is not there – but you can get a very good quality hybrid-type bike for £200 to £250. A helmet is a must and a firm-soled pair of shoes – trainers are designed for running and don’t give a stiff enough protection on the pedal.”
His top tip for anyone taking to the saddle for the first time – a pair of padded cycling shorts. “They may feel strange to start with,” he says, “but trust me, they are a very worthwhile item.”
Cyclists looking to take part in Wheels Around the Weald can choose from three distances, starting at 15 miles for a family fun ride and up to 80 miles for more competitive cyclists. For details, call 01892 820527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org