Taking part in the Duchenne Dash for the first time - Ross' story
Ross Bennett took part in the Duchenne Dash, our annual London to Paris bike ride, in 2022 following his son Matthew's DMD diagnosis. He told us what it's like to take part as a first-time Dasher (and a novice cyclist!), and what it means for families like his to be part of an event that has raised millions towards DMD research.
“When my son was diagnosed with DMD, I felt completely helpless. I was desperate to do something to make my son better. I’m an engineer, not a bio-medical genius; I fix things, not people. When I saw the opportunity to do something to support the people who are trying to save my son’s life, I jumped at the chance to join them.
Now, please consider that I only started road cycling 15 months before the Dash, and I’m a bit of a big fella, so this was a huge challenge to sign up to! I took this challenge as an opportunity to lose a few pounds, raise a few pounds and get some time for me. Now this may sound a little selfish, but the time I spent on the bike preparing for the Dash gave me time to think about and process the situation I had found my family and myself in. It’s not a great situation to be in and coming to terms with it is hard, but the Dash gave me that opportunity.
I had only ridden a handful of sportives before the Dash, and as I didn’t get declared as a hypothermic casualty, end up in a bush or walking up a hill because I had run out of gears, I think I can say quite confidently that the Dash is one of the most well organised and expertly planned cycling events that you could do. The ride captains are a great bunch, always there to have a chat with you and give you tips as you go along. The support staff are first rate, every fuel stop is slicker than an F1 pitstop – and the food is amazing. The mechanics and medics are always at hand ready to dive in to patch you and the bike up, whenever you need it.
Being part of a team of 120+ riders streaming into Paris with the traffic stopped for us, and pedestrians and a wedding cortège (who hadn’t a clue who we were), cheering us on with ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ was something very special and a moment I’ll never forget. Knowing that all these great people are pushing themselves to do their bit to end Duchenne is truly amazing, and I found myself hiding behind my glasses with tears of joy for the support for my son and the thousands of other boys out there.
So, in short what did I get from the Dash? Well, some much needed head space, I met some great people, raised some cash, did something good and managed to snaffle three beers in the wait for the bike return!!!
Would I do it again? Absolutely, without hesitation. I’ve already started training and signed up for the 2023 Dash. Have you?
When you see me on the start line give me a wave, or better still just come and have a chat.
P.S. The only thing that’s a bit odd is after the Dash is when you get back to work and everyone is obsessed with if you got any chaffing…or is it just my oddballs!!”