AFTER suffering a near-fatal heart attack in January last year, long-distance cycling enthusiast David Bacon feared he would never be able to ride his bike again.
The 51-year-old IT technician had a heart attack as he cycled the 10-minute journey from his home in East Preston to his job at Rustington Primary School, in North Lane.
But after months of rehabilitation work and a the discovery of a determination the likes of which the father-of-two never realised he possessed, David will be tackling his biggest ride ever, cycling a daunting 127-miles in a single day.
However, for David, of North Lane, East Preston, the ride is not simply about conquering his demons. He is hoping to help raise as much money as he can for a charity very close to home – the Matthew Russo Foundation.
David said he was inspired to take on the challenge to help his friend and work colleague, Julia Champion, whose family set up the foundation after her nephew Matthew, seven, tragically choked to death at his school in Crawley, in 2010.
David said: “Going through something like a heart attack really opens your eyes to the world around you. I thought I was fit and healthy and that it would never happen to me. But it did. It was just one of those unpredictable things in life.
“So, when I decided to take on this cycle ride, I thought I would do it for something more than me. Hearing Matthew’s tragic story, and Julia’s family’s constant hard work has touched me deep down.”
David will be one of more than 600 people taking part in the Wiggle Magnificant Sportive cycle event, on Sunday, June 3.
The ride, which will set off from the Newbury Racecourse, in Berkshire, will see him ride a circular through the county, into Hampshire and back, tackling nine gruelling hill climbs, with a cumulative ascent of more than 2,800m.
David, who prior to his heart attack regularly cycled hundreds of miles a week, said: “I have built up my training little-by-little and it has been very tough.
“When I first began training, I could barely walk down the road without getting out of breath. Even now I can’t keep up with the guys I used to.
“I wanted to do something that I wasn’t sure I could complete. I want to push myself again.
“I did an 88-mile ride last week, and I’m doing 100 miles this weekend, so I feel I’m on the right track, but 127 miles is my longest ride.”
Julia, a teaching assistant at the school, said: “David is an extraordinary man who is helping to support my family’s charity. Matthew was such a loving and kind child. He will never be forgotten and we’re determined some good would come from this terrible tragedy.”
Sponsorship money can be given at the school or donated directly to the charity. Postal details are available on its website at www.thematthewrussofoundation.org.uk