A NURSE at the Alexandra Hospital is taking on the mammoth challenge of riding the entire length of the Tour de France cycle race next summer – at the age of 60.
Jackie Fowler – who’s worked in Worcestershire’s hospitals for more than 32 years – will cycle the astonishing 3,500km (2,200mile) route as part of a team aiming to raise £1million for Midlands-based charity Cure Leukaemia.
The incredible feat of endurance will take place along the exact route that the professionals complete, a week before the official race begins.
The route covers a distance equivalent to cycling from Worcestershire to Moscow and also involves an uphill climb equal to three times the height of Mount Everest.
Jackie, who’s also a grandmother, will be one of just two women to take part in the ride, the other being half her age.
But age is no obstacle for Jackie, who said: “At the age of 60 I wanted to do something that would help others and show that age is no boundary when it comes to any challenge that life presents.”
Jackie has always been sporty – regularly competing in triathlons before deciding to spend more time on her bike – but this is no ordinary challenge, with Jackie’s ride covering the same tarmac, cobbles and gravel as Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome will cover just a week later.
“There are no shortcuts and no stopping early,” said Jackie.
“We have to complete each stage of the professional race in a single day, 21 stages in all including our final ride on the Champs d Elysees in Paris on July 17.
“Ask anyone in the cycling world about the infamous Alp D’ Huez and they will tell you of an iconic climb of 21 hairpin bends, 14km in length and rising 1,860m into the Alps.
“That is our ride on Stage 12, but only after we have ridden over the Col du Galibier (2,069m) and Col de la Croix de Fer (1,537m) earlier the same day.”
Jackie will be joined on her epic ride by former England footballer, Geoff Thomas who is a patron for the Cure Leukaemia charity and a Leukaemia survivor himself.
Jackie said: “When I met Geoff he told me about himself and Cure Leukaemia, and I shared my own story of my son Simon, who sadly died of Aplastic Anaemia which is closely related to Leukaemia.
Jackie aims to raise £37,500 as one of a team of nearly 30 riders whose combined target is £1million for Cure Leukaemia.
“I hope people can see that as a 60-year-old grandmother and retired nurse, for me to take on all 21 stages of the Tour De France is pushing the boundaries of extraordinary to the limits,” said Jackie.
“If anyone reading this has £10 to spare, give that £10 to Cure Leukaemia it will go to saving someone’s life.”
To donate to Cure Leukaemia in support of Jackie’s incredible cycle ride click: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/jackietdf