Jennifer Carmichael rode her first Duchenne Dash in 2023, but she says it won’t be her last.
She decided to ride for Jamie Latham, who is ten years old and has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
This is Jennifer’s Dash story.
“Jamie is a gorgeous, kind, fun and funny bright-spark of a boy and his parents are friends of ours.
“Jamie’s father has been taking part in the Dash for many years with a team that he put together, called Jamie’s Dashers.
“I had recently left the world of competitive show-jumping and was looking for something to fill the void. Switching from one saddle to the next and cycling to Paris with Jamie’s Dashers was the perfect solution.
“I will always be grateful to Jamie for having put me on this path and I hope that we will be able to do much more to support his cause as time goes by.
“The first day of the ride on the UK side went by in a blur for me as I was so excited.
“Day two started off at a relative sprint as the roads on the French side are so smooth and clear, but I found the pre-lunch hill climbing quite tough. The scenery along the way and the supporters (especially as we drew nearer to Paris) were fantastic.
“The end-to-end experience is impeccably well-organised and everyone involved is supportive, enthusiastic and helpful. Our ride captains were amazing, both in terms of their own experience levels and awesome cycling skills, but also as really fun motivators.
“I had a minor incident (i.e., came off my bike) about 10 km from the end and one of our Captains, Robin, told me later that had I not gotten back on the bike he would have found a way to carry me to the finish!
“Speaking of the finish, it was just fantastic cycling into Paris with motorcycle outriders clearing traffic as we rolled in and the Eiffel Tower came into view at last.
“The gala dinner, speeches and evening festivities were the perfect finale and a great way to share stories with both fellow Dashers and supporters who came to join in celebration.
“Do it for Duchenne and you will find that you are also doing so much good for yourself.”
I was no cyclist to be sure! I could just about ride a bike, but had never ridden a proper road bike before. I had to buy a bike, learn to clip in, fuel and hydrate while cycling, ride in a group, not to mention riding safely in traffic, hand signals, etc.
Once reasonably confident about those skills, I started doing some weekend rides with our Dash team, Jamie’s Dashers. They are all far more experienced cyclists than I am and taught me lots about road cycling as we got out to Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Box Hill.
I also have friends in Windsor who took me out for some long (100 – 140 km) training rides.
Cycling can be time consuming, but if you train with a group of like-minded people, it really is fun, sociable and fulfilling.
In between road training rides or when the weather was grim, I would train indoors on my Peloton bike where long ‘Powerzone’ rides really boosted my endurance.
Also, the Pearson skills sessions were terrific both for learning technical skills and meeting fellow Dashers.
I just told Jamie’s story and my own (about why I was cycling to Paris for Jamie) and people were incredibly generous.
I setup my own JustGiving page alongside the one for our broader group, Jamie’s Dashers (same fundraising target, but with a little bit less pressure as one collective total).
Next time I will join in the group’s fundraising efforts, but for this first one I wanted to entirely on my own.