A man who received a transplanted heart from a keen cyclist killed in a road traffic collision will this summer undertake a four-day group bike ride from Bristol to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to pay tribute to his donor and to a friend and fellow transplant patient who died following surgery.
The 342-mile ride will also seek to highlight the need for organ donors, as well as raising funds and awareness for the charity the Transplant Association that 38-year-old Kevin Mashford from Somerset has helped establish.
Since speaking to the Bristol Post about his experience, the father-of-two’s story has been picked up by the national media.
But as he explains on the Team Mash website set up for the ride, reports have focused less on why he is setting out on that four-day ride, and more on his sudden passion for cycling.
“My story has been somewhat sensationalised but I guess that just happens,” he wrote, admitting the interest had taken him by surprise.
“For the record,” he went on, “having discovered my donor was a keen cyclist and that he tragically lost his life whilst cycling, I decided to do seven minutes for seven days in his memory seven days after my transplant.”
That ride took place on a static bike in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with his wife by his side.
“It was an emotional morning for Jo and I who was by my side every day, as just being able to do this so soon after my operation was amazing.”
Born with a hole in his heart, over the years Mr Mashford underwent a series of operations and had three pacemakers fitted.
But two years ago his health had deteriorated to such an extent that doctors warned him a transplant was his only hope, leading to an anxious wait for a suitable donor to be found.
The eventual donor, whom he knows only as “John,” was a keen cyclist who had been killed in a road traffic collision.
Some reports have focused on whether there may be a link between the donor’s love of cycling and Mr Mashford’s new-found passion for riding bikes, but it’s one he rejects.
“I don’t think I have adopted any form of my donor’s personality,” he said. “It’s just me and a passion to do something in his memory and to raise awareness.”
The ride will also pay tribute to his friend Jonathan Osborne, who had a lung transplant in 2013 but contracted pneumonia a year later and died after a further operation.
Mr Osborne’s son and other members of his family will be riding in his memory.They will be among 50 cyclists riding the entire route from Friday 17 to Monday 20 July, with their itinerary taking in overnight stops in Stratford-upon-Avon, Nottingham and Boroughbridge.
Within five days of the ride being launched at the start of January, just five full-ride places were left. One-day and ‘virtual ride’ places are still available via the Team Mash website, as are a variety of sponsorship opportunities.
Here’s Mr Mashford talking about his operation and what John’s decision to become an organ donor means to him.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.