Here we revisit a Family Friday blog first published last year, by Tŷ Hafan dad James Meacham, whose son Thomas was cared for by Tŷ Hafan before he died at the age of nine in June 2019. James, our official Ambassador for our Ride to the Rugby event, has already ridden to the rugby for Tŷ Hafan three times. In January 2019 he braved the cold riding his bike from Cardiff to Paris then a year later James battled tough terrain cycling to Dublin. In March, 2021, undefeated by lockdown, he took on the event virtually. Now James has committed to his fourth Ride to the Rugby in March 2022. Here he shares why he gets on his bike for Tŷ Hafan.
I have to be honest, I never thought I’d become a cyclist! I first heard of ride to the rugby while we were staying at Tŷ Hafan with Thomas, sometime in 2018. Having never been a cyclist but an average gym goer and very part time runner, I thought it would be a great challenge and convinced my mate and my cousin it was a good idea.
So we all bought bikes and started training. It soon became apparent that road cycling is hard work! A few training rides with the wider team, lots of winter miles, and January 2019 soon arrived. The buzz as myself and the other 39 cyclists departed from Cardiff was something else. The weather was really against us on that day, but we ploughed on as a team and got there. The rides are so well organised both on and off the road, from the feed stops or roving support van, to the team captains who keep everyone safe and moving (and upright) that it’s a real feel good adventure!
After a ferry trip and more cold weather riding, we arrived in Paris! The atmosphere was electric, rugby fans cheering us on as we rode the same cobbles as the Tour de France – that feeling will stay with me for a long time. Video calling my wife Sarah and son Thomas in the hospice brought a few tears.
So based on that wonderful experience, it didn’t take much for me to sign up for Cardiff to Dublin – ride to the rugby 2020. Once again we had a few group training rides, and it speaks volumes that this time we had an unofficial “Team Thomas” of about ten participants, rather than three the year before. We lined up in Cardiff and headed west… who knew west Wales was so hilly! Meeting in a pub outside Dublin, sharing a beer, then cycling to the Aviva with a big group of mates is such an awesome feeling, it doesn’t fade.
That trip was different on an emotional level because seven months before, Thomas passed away peacefully in the hospice, so my reasons for doing it were slightly different – from being a user of Tŷ Hafan, to wanting to ensure they can continue to support families like mine.
The highlight of that trip was being asked if we’d be ok with the team captains organising a “Thomas Meacham” award and asking me present it to the “rider’s rider” of the tour.
It’s a very special trip for lots of reasons.