College of West Anglia Lecturer Kevin Graves, from Snettisham, climbs the Alpe d’Huez on his bike to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth hospital, in King’s Lynn
© Archant Norfolk 2012
A college lecturer suffering from cancer achieved one of his great ambitions when he rode in the tyre tracks of his heroes up a mountain.
Kevin Graves, 46, took 70 minutes to climb the Alpe d’Huez, famed for one of the toughest stages of the Tour De France.
He made the gruelling 1,860m ascent - nearly seven miles by road - with his sister-in-law and fellow keen cyclist, Helen Anderson, a 37-year-old nurse who lives in New Zealand.
Mr Graves, who lives in Snettisham with his wife Mandy and sons Michael and Luke, said they decided to attempt the climb on arriving at the base of the mountain, rather than rest up and make the climb the following day.
“I looked down at the computer on my bike, it said 11pc when I was climbing and I felt really good,” he said.
“Helen had dropped back a bit, so I dropped back and said do you want me to ride with you and she said no, no - you go on ahead.
“I passed a load of other riders and I felt like turing round and shouting: ‘I’ve got cancer and I’m doing this.”
Mr Graves and Mrs Anderson were blown away by the alpine views, when they stopped to get their breath back at the summit.
Their ride raised more than £3,000 for the MacMillan Care and Treatment Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where Mr Graves has been receiving chemotherapy after being diagnosed with throat cancer in January.
Patricia Wright, the QEH’s chief executive, said the money would help towards the ongoing £1m refurbishment of the MacMillan Unit at the hospital.
“The amount of money that’s been raised is fantastic,” she said.
“We are refurbishing the MacMillan Unit, it will be extended so we’ll have more facilities. It’s a great unit, but we’ve outgrown it.”
Mr Graves said: “The day after I was diagnosed, January 19, not that I remember, I started planning this thing.
“The thing about cycling that’s different to other sports is you if you’re into football you can’t play football at Wembley, you can’t play cricket at Lords, but you can cycle in their wheel marks.”
Students at the College of West Anglia, where Mr Graves works, raised £500 from their own sponsored bike ride.
“From what was negative situation, what I would like is to positively impact on patients,” said Mr Graves.