Riding for Adam pedals through Rochester

A father and uncle who wanted to do a one-off bike ride from John o’ Groats to Land’s End and raise £10,000 for Cancer Research UK just took on their fifth major cycling challenge and have just topped the incredible £280,000 fundraising mark in their Riding for Adam campaign.


Mark Bayliss, 62, from Cornwall and brother-in-law James Van Cleef, 54, from Essex, had planned for Adam Van Cleef, son and nephew, to be the support drive during their first ride. Adam had previously overcome B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, having been diagnosed when he was 14.


In November 2016, Adam was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer, synovial sarcoma, and in June 2018, when the first ride was scheduled, Adam sadly passed away, aged 23.


However, Mark and James were determined to see through the project, and would complete their cycling just three months later, smashing their fundraising target in the process. Having seen the potential to make an even greater difference to cancer research, the bike ride would become an annual event; known as Riding for Adam.


In 2019, the pair went on a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In 2020, that was followed by the North Coast 500, a 500-mile cycle around the Scottish Highlands. Then last September, Mark and James cycled round 21 of the 42 English cathedrals from Truro to Bradford, and cycled to the remaining half, including Rochester, at the end of May this year.


Speaking to us about their quick stops in Rochester, Mark explained: “The English Cathedrals Cycle Tour national cycling route includes Rochester by way of London to Rochester, Rochester to Canterbury and back to Rochester, and then on from Rochester to Guildford, so you can see we got to cycle through Rochester quite a few times! Spending two nights 23rd and 24th May 2022 in Rochester we didn’t arrive from London until 9:30pm, got soaked on our return from Canterbury, and then had a comparatively uninspiring ride up the A2 and through South London to Guildford.

“But Rochester, Rochester, thank you for your warm welcome to your fabulous historic heart. We were greeted by manager Neil and volunteer Joanna from the local Cancer Research UK shop – with doughnuts – and kindly received and blessed with prayers for our onward journey by Canon Gordon Giles of Rochester Cathedral.”


To read more about the incredible Riding For Adam project, and avenues to donate, make your way over to the Riding for Adam website.

by Callum Knowles

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