England rugby legend Rory Underwood to tackle 100-mile cycle ride for dementia research

24 July 2018

He may be better known for his bursts of speed down a rugby pitch, but England’s record try-scorer Rory Underwood will be tackling a longer distance this weekend in a bid to raise money for dementia research.

Rory Underwood

Rory Underwood

Rory, who scored 49 tries in 85 Tests between 1984 and 1996, is taking on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event on Sunday (July 29) to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The 55-year-old, who lives near Grantham in Lincolnshire, was inspired to sign up for the 100-mile cycle ride and raise money for the UK’s leading dementia research charity as his mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease and is now living in a care home.

He said:

“Seeing her succumb to the disease over the last five years has been heart-breaking, especially for my wife and her sister. Whenever they are with their mother they see her in body but not in mind. She’s not the same person, her personality and behaviour are different. It’s very cruel.

“She doesn’t know who I am or who her grandchildren are. She recognises my wife and her sister who go and see her two or three times a week each, but she doesn’t really know why they are there or who they are.”

He added:

“As my wife volunteered me to do this bike ride, I asked her to choose a cause to support and she suggested dementia. We chose Alzheimer’s Research UK as we want to support research.

“A lot of money is spent supporting and looking after people who have dementia, but the only way it is going to stop is if more money is spent on research to find the causes and ultimately find a cure.”

Rory, who played for Leicester Tigers for 14 years and is a director at the club, first got into cycling around 10 years ago when he was invited to take part in the London Triathlon.

The former Royal Air Force pilot, who now runs a team development consultancy called Wingman Ltd, will be riding alongside around 25,000 cyclists at the event, which has a similar route to that used for the London 2012 Olympic road cycling races.

Rory Underwood

Rory Underwood

He said:

“I ride a lot, it’s the main thing I do to keep in shape. I go riding with a friend who lives in my village most weekends.

“The main thing has been getting a lot of miles in, getting used to being on the bike for the long time.

“My target is seven hours. I just need to make sure I don’t burn myself out before I get to Leith Hill and Box Hill.”

Rory has so far raised £6,000. To sponsor him go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rory-Underwood

Rory is one of around 90 riders who are taking on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event for Alzheimer’s Research UK, with a further 30 riding the 46-mile version.

Megan Ruddlesden, Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We can’t thank Rory enough for taking on RideLondon to raise vital funds for dementia research and support the work we do to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025.

“He’s used to crowds roaring him on when he was running down a rugby field and we are looking forward to cheering him on on Sunday from our two cheer stations along the course.

“The vital funds raised by Rory and our other riders will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

For information about taking on a sporting event to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, go to www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/support-us/fundraise/events