Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

New Year New You - RideLondon for Meningitis Now

Andy Hopkinson | 7th January 2020

Thinking about joining our #TeamTangerine for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 this year as part of New Year New You? Of course, we’d love it if you did

Meningitis Now New Year New You - RideLondon fundraising event

Thirty-six-year-old father of five Justin Freeman, from Essex, took on the event for us last year, and tells you why you shouldn’t hesitate.

“I loved doing the RideLondon-Surrey 100 and I'm glad I finally got to do it."

“The reason I decided to take on RideLondon is pretty much because it’s one of those iconic events that as a cyclist you just have to do. It's the cycling equivalent to the London Marathon and a ride that you need to experience."

“I would say that I am a fairly experienced rider now but it's only a fairly recent sport I've taken up. I've always been sporty but was always more into football. I took up cycling more once I stopped playing."

“It’s only really over the last four years or so that I've become more serious. I suffer quite bad anxiety and I found that cycling was something that I found really helped with combating this."

“I did originally enter the RideLondon ballot three years ago but unfortunately didn't get a place. Then for the next two years I had to miss out as both times my partner and I were expecting a baby. I didn't want to risk not being able to ride or put the effort into training."

This year I was determined…

“Last year I was determined I was going to participate so signed up for my charity place as soon as possible."

“I had a few different choices regarding charities. I have done a few things over the years and always try to put back into a charity that is close to either myself, family or friends. I've done things for GOSH, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, Farleigh Hospice and Helen Rolason, for example."

“My meningitis story isn’t really about myself but others close to me. My partner lost her brother Mike to meningitis 11 years ago when he was just 19 and I also have friends whose daughter was struck with the disease when she was a baby. As a consequence she had life-changing brain damage and will suffer problems for the rest of her life."

So many good bits

“Trying to pick the best part of RideLondon is ridiculously hard as there are so many good bits. I've participated in a few organised events now but never one that had closed roads. The experience was unlike any I'd done before but definitely one I'd like to do again."

“I did particularly like the hills, I'm weird like that! Box Hill is iconic so to ride that was great, but my favourite memory was definitely the crowds. Riding through the towns that had the big crowds was just fantastic. There were bands playing, lots of cheering and applauding. It really got your spirits up and helped get the adrenaline pumping."

“Being part of the Meningitis Now team was fantastic. From the moment I signed up the communication and support was second to none."

“All queries were dealt with quickly and it always felt like there was someone on hand to help with even the silliest of things. When I asked for fundraising equipment it was sent immediately. I couldn't fault the team in the build up at all."

Couldn’t fault the team

“Event day was very much the same – I couldn't fault the team at all. Just after I'd crossed the finish line I was greeted with a huge smile by a lovely lady in her Team Tangerine t-shirt offering congratulations and saying how well I'd done, before taking my picture."

“After collecting my belongings I was again greeted with big smiles by more of Team Tangerine, pointing me in the direction of the stand and once there was escorted to the hotel that was set up for refreshments."

“The hotel and the team there were again fantastic. My partner and children had come up to support me and we were all welcomed with big smiles and yet more congratulations. The food was lovely and the shower and massage were very welcome."

Overwhelmed at the support

“A friend who I had rode with (who was supporting a different charity) was also allowed to come with me and we were able to have a coffee and some food and talk about the ride. He was overwhelmed at the support that was given to us by the Meningitis Now team as in comparison his charity had done hardly anything – just a pat on the back and away they went.”

If Justin’s account has inspired you to give it a go, you can!

Meningitis Now New Year New You 2020 - Page Link Graphic RideLondon