HomeNewsUT team looks forward to Tour for Life experience: we’re not doing it because it’s easy, but because it’s hard

UT team looks forward to Tour for Life experience: we’re not doing it because it’s easy, but because it’s hard

The Tour for Life adventure is fast approaching for the eight cyclists that make up the University of Twente team. Mathijs Beek, Wan Bakx, Floortje Duijkers, Ashrith Jain, Steven de Jong, Angelique van Leeuwen, Aditya Pappu, Kees Posch and Leontien Kalverda will be joining the Tour for Life from Sunday 28 August to Sunday 4 September: a charity race that will take the participants from Bardonecchia in Italy to the Netherlands: 1,300 kilometres of cycling, with many mountains along the way, all to support the Daniël den Hoed Foundation to finance cancer research. With the participants, we look ahead to this great adventure.

In December last year, student Angelique van Leeuwen took the plunge and approached the UT to ask if she could take part in Tour for Life with a UT team. “My expectations have been fully met,” she recalls. “I’ve found my cycling buddies; we can spar about our material together and give each other a boost when necessary. We all have the same goal, which is to raise money for the Daniel den Hoed Fund by cycling.”

Enjoying every ride

In recent months, she has put in many hours of her free time to train. “That has turned out to be a great success. I’ve had so much fun just training. I didn’t think that I would enjoy every ride more and more. And I’m sure that this pleasure will also be very present during Tour for Life!”

In total, the UT participants have already raised more than 16 thousand euros. They still need to raise a little more in the coming weeks. “I have to admit that I sometimes feel hesitant to ask people around me for money. I know that it is not for myself, but really for that charity. That doesn’t take away from the fact that you still feel a threshold.” In addition to many colleagues, friends and family, the UT team was also able to find some companies that donated a nice amount. Their logo will also be displayed on the team’s special jersey during the Tour.

PhD candidate Aditya Pappu is one of those who got excited by Angelique’s appeal. “Being part of a fantastic team has made the challenge exciting and fun. We did a cycling camp together in Sauerland, Germany in May, followed by another training camp in July. We also cycled routes in Hasbergen-Lienen in July, followed by 138 km from Enschede to Utrecht and 154 km back. Cycling with the team has clearly enabled my development as a cyclist, both in terms of skills and the cycling etiquette that you have to follow when you are part of a peloton. Even the most boring routes become fun when I ride them with my great teammates. Every bit of my slow but sure progress as a cyclist I owe to their immense patience, encouragement and coaching.”

Every spare hour is used

Even while the team enjoys cycling, it requires an enormous amount of time, with the participants training at least four times a week. Staff member Wan Bakx says: "It is very important that your family fully supports and understands the fact that you spend so many hours on the bike, and that the summer holidays and all the weekends are dedicated to Tour for Life. The many training sessions do require a few things. In my case, my wife, Heleen, works in health care and sometimes that works out well and I'm cycling on Saturdays and/or Sundays when she works, but it can also be that she has the weekend off and I'm away (and that she works during the week when I'm home in the evening). To make up for it, I recently invited Heleen for coffee and cake in Ootmarsum. I went by bike and she went by car. After returning from the Tour for Life, we'll have to make up for it a bit more.”

Also employee Kees Posch experienced the heavy claim on his free time. In this case, his holiday. "In order to be well prepared for the start in August, there was no time for a sun holiday during the summer months, which we normally enjoy. In the end, it became a beach holiday early in the year and an active cycling 'holiday' in August. With the bike in the back of the car, we travelled to Austria, to Tyrol, where I could cycle up and down the hills. It took a lot of effort and energy to combine the cycling tours with other fun holiday activities. In the end, the whole holiday was about me and my bike. I cycled 360 kilometres in six days. I was able to train well, although the mountains were a lot steeper than we will see during the Tour for Life. Training there is really different from training in the Netherlands, but also much more varied and fun! Although it was tough and really affected our holiday, I am glad we did it, it gives a lot of confidence for the tour. And I'm also glad that Myrna was willing to sacrifice her holiday for it.”

Student Floortje Duijkers also took the bike on holiday. Floortje: "Currently I'm at a campsite in the south of France and yesterday I cycled up my first col: Col du Galibier. Maybe it was not a wise choice for a first time climber to do one of the toughest climbs in the whole of France. It was extremely tough, but I made it! I expect the same with Tour for Life: very tough, but we will get there!”

For a good cause

Participating in a charity race makes it extra special for the team. Wan: "Recently we had the second national information meeting of Tour for Life. There were cyclists and volunteers who have already participated many times. This gives a tremendously positive energy. So much enthusiasm for this charity, for each other, to make it a very special happening. It's great. Of course, for participants like us who are doing it for the first time, there is a lot of tension in the air, but it is and remains something to look forward to. It's not called the Tour for Life for nothing; you ride a sponsor amount to improve the lives of patients with cancer; the tour for their lives, and you get your own tour of life.”

Leontien Kalverda will accompany the team. Not as a rider, but for support. Leontien is excited to be able to lend a hand in this way. "It will be a very special experience to contribute to the UT team at such a big event. I want to make sure that they can complete the difficult route as well as possible: make sure they can get the best out of themselves and of course help to raise as much money as possible for scientific research into cancer. In the meantime, I have got to know the team and I have been able to get to know the route and the organisation around it a bit more. It is really big! The distances, altimeters and seven days of cycling in a row seem very tough, but also very special to accomplish together. I am not a sports cyclist, but I am a sportsman and I think I can complement the team well with everything that is needed."

For everyone, the next few weeks will be exciting. Aditya: "As I enter the final weeks before the Tour, I do feel some anxiety. I wonder if my preparation was sufficient, and if I will be able to get through the eight stages. From talking to my teammates, it seems we all have the same feeling - that the Tour will be much tougher and more back-breaking (or rather knee-jerk) than any preparation route we have ridden so far. And yet, we are all ready and have actively chosen to take on this grand challenge. In the words of J.F. Kennedy, 'We do not do it because it is easy, but because it is hard'."

You can donate your contribution to the UT Tour for Life team via the Tour for Life website.