Demoralising headwinds, monster climbs, aching muscles, driving rain, sleet, and even temperatures dipping into single digits have not been enough to stop the ultra motivated, but novice cycling duo that are Adam Tann and Daniel Huggins. As I write, their Two Wheel Testicle Tour should be on it’s way to Liverpool on Day six of their epic challenge to visit every Premier League ground in the England in eight days!
Why have these two childhood friends, who have never even owned a ‘proper’ bike until a month ago, decided to put themselves through 850 miles of pain, I hear you ask? As you’ve probably guessed from the name of the challenge, they’re trying to raise money and awareness for male cancer charities with Orchid Cancer the main beneficiary of their fundraising effort.
Adam is one of my best friends and back in 2006, when we were teammates together at Leyton Orient, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer after finding a small lump. To say it was a shock to myself and the rest of the team was an understatement. You think you’re invincible in your mid-twenties, and ‘Tanny’ was (and still is) one of the fittest guys I know, so it came from absolutely nowhere. Testicular cancer was something I had never given a second thought about up until then. Luckily for him, us footballers are quite body aware (or maybe we’ve just always got our hands down our shorts!) so he caught the cancer at a very early stage and received some of the best treatment available. After an operation and a single pioneering treatment of chemotherapy called ‘Carboplatin’ which was developed by Adam’s surgeon and one of Britain’s top oncologists, Professor Tim Oliver, he was back playing competitive football just four months later. An incredible achievement in itself – it was particularly fitting that Tanny ended up scoring the goal in the away win against Bradford that more or less secured our League One status after a tough relegation scrap toward the end of that season. I’ve no doubt his positivity and mental toughness rubbed off on the rest of us during that campaign.
Cancer has also affected the life of the other half of this unlikely long distance cycling duo. Dan has lost family members to the disease and his motivation to do something positive to help fight its indiscriminate nature is just as strong as Adam’s. They were teammates as youngsters at Cambridge United, and although Adam still plays and Dan is reasonably fit, they wanted to do something outside their comfort zone that would make people sit up and take notice. I think they’ve certainly achieved that.
Relieved to have arrived at the Appletree Guesthose in Bath
My wife Laura and I met up with them in Bath on Tuesday night after they had just completed a particularly grueling 130 mile ride from Reading via Southampton. The lads admitted that the leg had been the toughest so far. The rain hadn’t let up all day, they were soaking wet and had been in the saddle for almost 12 hours, something which would become the norm over the following couple of days. They were warmly welcomed into their lodgings for the night at the Apple Tree Guest House by the owner Les. After a quick shower and protein shake their day was about to improve, although they’d have been forgiven for thinking it was getting worse as I handed them both some random spare clothes of mine to change into before heading out to help them refuel. Dan looked particularly fetching in my old training bottoms and hoody, while Tanny got slightly the better part of the deal as he squeezed into my skinny jeans. The flip flops they had brought with them finished off the look nicely and although they were both walking like John Wayne, they were in good spirits.
Over some juicy burgers at Bill’s restaurant in Bath where the staff were amazingly supportive and generous, they recounted their adventure so far and you can read more about it here on the blog that they’re attempting to update at the end of every day – that is if they don’t fall asleep mid post. They’ve been taken aback by the kindness of strangers at every stop and even had unexpected support from a couple of Premier League stars as well. Swansea striker, Michu, was happy to pose for photographs and my friend, the always approachable and all-round good guy, Steven Reid, met up with them at West Bromwich Albion.
Nice to Michu
Every day their legs get a bit stiffer and it gets harder for them to get up and do it all over again, but after today (Friday) they’ve ‘only’ got two more left on the road. First they visit Wigan and the Manchester clubs before heading for the North East where they’ll tick off Sunderland, before finally completing the tour at Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park on Sunday evening.
When they complete this incredibly gruelling challenge, they’ll have done something pretty incredible. Two guys who have basically jumped on their bikes with very little training and attempted something that would test the most experience cyclist. They’ll have earned every penny of the sponsorship money that has and will be donated, so please give what you can to these two inspiring individuals I’m proud to call friends.
You can sponsor them here and I know they would really appreciate any twitter messages of support for the final push.