A SHIRLEY woman is gearing up ready to cycle more than 100km off road in memory of her loving dad.
Caroline Free will be lining up alongside 2,500 others for the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride on September 21.
It is to mark 30 years since the death of her dad Joe Free, who died of a heart attack in November 1989 after feeling unwell while building an extension on the family home.
The 53-year-old said her mother, Mary, took Joe to the doctors and after they were unable to find anything unusual it was suggested he go to the hospital for further check-ups.
She added: “He had suffered a massive heart attack when they were literally just outside the hospital doors.
“They rushed him into the hospital but there was nothing they could do.
“It came as such a massive shock, especially because dad was fit and healthy. He was a real hardy man and we were unaware of him having a heart condition – nothing had been detected.
“We’re a very close-knit family, so we were devastated. Dad was such a warm and loving person, and I can’t imagine anyone having a bad word to say about him.
“He died far too young and losing him just turned our world upside down.”
Caroline’s fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her dad was the on-road London to Brighton bike ride.
But this time she wanted a bigger challenge.
This time she will be heading off the beaten track along the Thames cycle track in London before heading to Southwater Country Park in West Sussex and taking on Truleigh Hill in West Sussex before crossing the finishing line in Brighton.
The mum-of-one said: “It’s going to be something a little bit different to what I’m used to, but I’m training hard and it’s been going really well so far.
“I’m seeing this as an opportunity to celebrate my dad’s life. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to raise some money for a charity close to our family.”
Friends and family will also join Caroline at the finish line to celebrate her success.
Matthew McMahon, BHF Event Organiser, said: “We want to say a massive thank you to Caroline for signing up to the BHF’s London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride and wish her all the best in this event.”
For more or to donate to Caroline’s fundraising challenge visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CazFreeBHF.
To sign up to the London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride visit www.bhf.org.uk/L2BOffRoad.