A cyclist from Leicestershire is taking on RideLondon next week to raise funds for a charity which supports young widowed people, eleven years after his wife was killed on a cycling holiday in Scotland.
Chris and Elaine Dunne were cycling across the Orkney Islands to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in September 2011 when, on the return leg of their journey between John O’Groats and Wick, they were both struck by a 92-year-old motorist who had veered over to the wrong side of the road after suffering an apparent “blackout”.
Elaine, who was 30 years old, was killed in the collision. Chris was placed in an induced coma for three weeks after sustaining severe head injuries and remained in hospital for seven months.
He also lost his front teeth in the incident and continues to have problems with his balance and mobility.
As he recovered from his injuries, Chris was determined to rekindle his love for cycling, first on a three-wheeled recumbent before jumping back on his mountain bike as soon as he regained enough of his balance.
“Some friends were going to the Lake District in April 2012, and I went along on my mountain bike, which was probably a mistake because I managed to break my ankle,” Chris told the charity Widowed and Young (WAY), which supported him following the death of his wife.
“So I was in hospital again for two weeks in Carlisle.”
Since lockdown, however, Chris has ridden his bike every day on local roads and trails, and after ticking off a number of long-distance routes, is aiming to complete next weekend’s RideLondon 100 on the roads of Essex to raise money for WAY, riding alongside fellow volunteers Emma Farrar and Lisa Aldridge.
The charity supports people under the age of 50 who have lost their partner, and currently has over 4,500 members across the UK.
“A fair few people said how can you go out cycling after what happened,” the 40-year-old engineer said. “RideLondon is closed roads so it’s all fairly low risk and I’m really looking forward to taking part.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.