Keith Farquharson has cycled the 2,082-mile distance of the 2018 Tour de France on a turbo trainer while receiving treatment for stage four bowel cancer and shielding from the coronavirus at home.
The 46-year-old software developer from Newcastle has been receiving treatment from the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Research Centre, and so decided to raise funds for the centre with his challenge.
He says the centre has kept him alive after it offered him a trial drug after being diagnosed in 2017 when he was told that half of the people with his prognosis die within a year.
Farquharson started his ride from his kitchen on March 28, riding 50km a day finishing 104 days later on July 10, with family and friends turning up to celebrate his final miles, setting up a podium ceremony, which was attended by Robson’s widow, Lady Elsie Robson, who set up the foundation in 2008.
He chose the 2018 Tour as it was the year he was off work with cancer and had time to watch the entire race, the total climbing of the route being equivalent to ascending Mount Everest five times.
So far, Farquharson has raised over £4,000 through his JustGiving page for the charity, but this is not the first time he has undertaken a physical challenge since his diagnosis. Two years ago he signed up for the Great North Run after he, his wife Amber, and his father were all diagnosed with cancer. His wife is now in remission but his father sadly passed away in March last year.
“I’m pleased it’s over, in a way, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of doing something that pushed me way beyond what I thought I could achieve,” Farquharson told Cycling Weekly.
“Although it was difficult to fit time riding around full-time work, family life and treatment, the hardest part mentally was about halfway through when hitting the flat after the Alps.
“Having had a col or categorised climb to aim at each day, to days of steady riding with little of interest made motivation difficult. It was at that point that looking forward to riding with friends on Zoom and words of encouragement from supporters and friends kept me going.”