Olympic super couple Laura and Jason Kenny are urging people to put their pedal power to the test this winter by taking on an inspiring new cycling challenge launched by Alzheimer’s Research UK this week.
The duo, who have won 10 Olympic gold medals between them, are asking people to sign up for the charity’s new Cycling Down Dementia initiative.
Cycling Down Dementia challenges participants to ride either 300 (Pioneer) or 1,000 (Epic) miles during the winter and raise £150 to help fund pioneering dementia research.
Laura and Jason, whose first child, Albert, was born in August, have both had grandparents who have battled dementia, so are keen to support Alzheimer’s Research UK in its mission to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025.
Laura, who won two gold medals at Rio 2016 and two at London 2012, said:
“Both Jason’s nan and my nan had dementia, and we’re desperate for a cure to be found.
“Cycling Down Dementia is a fantastic initiative that combines two of our passions – cycling and dementia research.
“As a new mum, I was horrified to learn that one in three people born today will go on to develop dementia in their lifetime. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
“Alzheimer’s Research UK is doing fantastic work to help beat it, and I’d encourage everyone to get involved in Cycling Down Dementia to help bring that day forward.”
Jason, who has won six Olympic gold medals including three in Rio, added: “This is a cause close to our hearts, and Cycling Down Dementia is a challenge for everyone. Even if you haven’t ridden in a while, there’s a distance for you.
“It’s a great opportunity to get active and support Alzheimer’s Research UK’s vital work this winter.”
All cyclists have to do to take part is sign up at www.cyclingdowndementia.org, choose either the Pioneer or Epic challenge, connect their tracking app such as Strava or MapMyFitness and get on their bikes. Participants can clock up the miles on the road or on an indoor bike.
Cyclists can compare their distances with others interactively through the website for extra motivation and keep track of leaderboards. Participants can also join forces and compete in teams, so groups of friends and work colleagues and members of cycling clubs can compete for the top spot.
Whether it takes three days, three weeks or three months, the aim is to complete the 300 or 1,000-mile distance by the end of January 2018. Anyone who raises more than £250 will receive a free Team ARUK cycle jersey.
Participants are being encouraged to share their progress on social media using the hashtag #CyclingDownDementia. They can also join the Cycling Down Dementia community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/cyclingdowndementia
Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion Helen German has already completed a challenge to ride 90km every day for 90 days on a static bike at the gym where she works to raise money for dementia research. She was inspired by her nan Phyllis, who has vascular dementia and celebrated her 90th birthday the day before the start of the challenge.
“The 90 days were a bumpy ride for a bike that doesn’t go anywhere, but it was worth every minute of hard work to support Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“Cycling Down Dementia is a great challenge and a great way to raise money for life-changing dementia research. I desperately want to see a breakthrough that will bring treatment to people like my nan.
“I’m back on my bike now following the birth of my daughter last year and will be Cycling Down Dementia.”
The challenge follows in the footsteps of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s award-winning Running Down Dementia initiative, which has raised more than £400,000 for life-changing dementia research since its launch in 2016.
Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“This is an exciting new initiative for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“We’re hoping it motivates serious cyclists to maintain their training during the winter as well as encouraging others to get out on their bikes and take on the ultimate personal challenge.
“There are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this number is set to rise. That is why it’s so important that we work together to end the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. The vital funds raised from Cycling Down Dementia will power world-class dementia research projects helping to shape our understanding of the condition and open the door to new treatments.”
For more information about Cycling Down Dementia go to www.cyclingdowndementia.org
For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org