Three years ago on Easter weekend, 27-year-old Pippa Erskine received a double lung transplant. Three years later, she completed a 100km indoor ride to raise money for the hospitals that kept her alive.
Originally, Pippa had planned to cycle the 100km from Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, where she underwent the operation, to The Brompton Hospital in London, where she received her pre-transplant care. However, coronavirus put a stop to that, especially as she found herself as one of the 1.5 million people identified by the NHS of being at higher risk and advised to stay home.
Undeterred, Pippa sourced a turbo trainer from a friend and used the RGT Cycling platform to recreate the planned route, hills and all, from her garden in Battersea.
Others were able to join her virtually on the ride, and friends and family who didn't fancy an indoor spin were able to cheer Pippa on via Instagram Live.
"We went live on Instagram for the start, a bit in the middle and at the end too, which was great and allowed friends and family to cheer me on and offer some encouragement which at points was definitely needed," Pippa said. "Especially in the end stretch when despite the padded shorts my behind was definitely feeling the 6 hours on the saddle!"
Three years ago Pippa's physical condition would not have allowed her to spend the five hours and three minutes on the bike that it took her to complete the 100km.
"Before the transplant, due to cystic fibrosis, I could no longer walk across a room without oxygen, spent months in hospital and without this operation there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be here today," Pippa explained. "Because of this I would like to try and give something back.
"The ride was definitely a challenge, I had looked forward to having friends and family around me to motivate me on so not having that was an adjustment, but it was important in my mind to try and do something even if it wasn’t quite the ride I had initially envisaged.
"Hopefully we will have an opportunity to do something like the route planned later in the year, around Organ Donation Awareness Week, but at least in the meantime, we have been able to raise a significant amount of money for the two hospitals which mean so much to me and so many others!"
The 'Lungaversy Ride' has so far raised £5,000, with the target set at £6,000, with funds to be split between two hospital trust's charities, the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity and the Royal Papworth Hospital Charity. Her JustGiving page (opens in new tab) currently remains open as they try and raise the final sums towards the goal.
Sadly, Pippa recently received news that her lungs are now in chronic rejection, which is a possibility for all solid organ transplants and more likely in lung transplants. At the moment Pippa isn't feeling the impact of this diagnosis but there is no cure for chronic rejection and so says she is determined to make the most of the time she has, including the 100km ride.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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