Profile Series: Mike Vernon - Body, Mind & Perserverance
Mike, aged 55, is husband to Brenda, and father and step-father to 4 grown up kids as well as Scooter the Cookerpoo. He Lives on the Fylde Coast meaning he’s got access to some cracking rides over the Trough of Bowland.
He had previously been a keen rugby player and says “I truly believe in the power of sport and physical activity to change people’s lives”. Working in this area for the past 30 years alongside coaching and volunteering with the sports clubs that his kids attended, all whilst rolling out and delivering health and wellbeing programmes with a national charity. He has a passion for sports, psychology, mental health and literally anything Bruce Springsteen. Although, he definitely considers embarrassing his children as a hobby of his “socks and sliders always works!”. He considers himself a short order breakfast chef, light switcher off complainer and head cake sampler.
After having to retire from Rugby early due to a hip injury with two subsequent hip replacements, he needed a way to keep fit. As he was looking, a couple of his mates mentioned to him about competing in a Charity Bike Ride, he thought why not? He went out and bought a bike with his mates and got stuck into some local charity rides. This resulted in a culmination of the group discovering carbon fibre, matching cycling kits, hiding bike receipts from their wives and greater cycling challenges such as the Eiffel Tower to Blackpool Tower Charity Bike Ride. From there, that was it “I was hooked!”
Unfortunately, his hip replacements have not been the only brush with the medical profession and in December 2018, Mike was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer. Since then, he has had radiotherapy, a major operation and is now on his second round of Chemotherapy as a chase down for secondary cancers around his body. He has endeavoured to keep the fitness training up through his treatment for the positive impact on his physical and mental health via his own lockdown mini-gym, spinning bike, plus getting out on the road bike.
“It is great getting outdoors but sometimes the energy levels from being on the Chemotherapy means it is like peddling through water. You also have to leave your ego at home, as I now go so slow that I get passed by families using adjoining bikes!”
Being an ex-rugby player he was never in the possession of a racing snake physique, something that has led him to wearing Fat Lad At The Back kit for the past few years. He says “due to the more forgiving, comfortable style which suits my stocky, stumpy body”. Something that we at FLAB hold crucially important is that Mike’s kit now enables him to ride with a colostomy bag and a temporary catheter without feeling too self-conscious. “It would be good to get this message out there to perhaps encourage more people with medical conditions/living with cancer that it is possible to keep/start cycling, helped along by the FLAB kit.”
What’s your personal mantra?
‘Worry is a wasted emotion’.
What's your favourite thing to do after a gruelling ride?
Like most cyclists, I’m usually famished, even after a short ride these days. However, you can keep your recovery drinks as that’s not for me. In my eyes, you have to go a long way to beat a fresh baguette with local some crumbly Lancashire Cheese… much more superior than your Yorkshire Wensleydale! (we beg to differ Mike).
We just want to say a huge thank you to Mike for allowing us to tell his story and for letting us in on the challenges he’s faced in a bid that somewhere, someone else will feel supported and encouraged. Thank you Mike!