Cancer survivor James Golding has a bigger fish to fry.
Cancer – twice.
Cancer not enough? Hit by a truck while cycling – once.
James Golding could be forgiven for not bothering any more with dreams of racing his bicycle across America (although his 2020 attempt was sidelined by Covid, just as a further kick in the proverbials).
“It [cycling] will break you down. It will make you cry. It will make you the happiest you have ever been.”
Not bothering is not in his make-up, though. In the past decade, Golding has overcome and achieved more than most would in a lifetime. His first battle against cancer was in 2008, a cancer ward ICU-bed battle where he was given a 5% chance of survival. That was just the beginning. He has gone on to cycle many of the world’s toughest events, raising more than R60-million for a variety of charities, and suffered countless setbacks along the way. One thing has always remained: his drive and determination. This death’s-door drive has led him down the cycle-path of ultra-endurance cycling.
It started as a recovery aid. one day he saw an old bike owned by a lodger lying around his home in Rugby in the middle of England and decided to go for a ride, having not cycled for years. It proved to be a huge release – and a revelation. “I went to the local reservoir and rode for five miles,” he explains. “I hadn’t felt so free for a very long time. It gave me a way to escape the treatment and to be active after months of being bed-bound, then in a wheelchair and using a zimmer-frame.” Gentle half-hour rides soon made way for bigger ambitions, as cycling transformed Golding’s recovery journey. “It [cycling] will break you down. It will make you cry. It will make you the happiest you have ever been.”
In 2017 he rode 2,842.2km in one week to break the 7-day Guinness World Record. That is 400km a day. After cancer, nothing is impossible? His next challenge: being the first Brit to win Race Across America.
But first… to qualify. Paper qualifications mean nothing to the organisers of the world’s toughest bike race – 4 500km, non-stop across the USA. They, understandably, want concrete proof you have not just the watts, but the grit to tackle their beast.
The winners of RAAM roll it in 8 days, the survivors have just 12 days to finish, or face disqualification. Sleep is optional, at best, a feared adversary for most. RAAM is simply the most brutal bike race there is. Why would a cancer survivor take it on, in the first place, let alone try and win it?
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