Director of communications and fundraising at United Response (and amateur cyclist), Diane Lightfoot, will be taking on the 100 mile Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on August 10th.

She will be cycling to raise valuable funds to improve the lives of people we support with disabilities and mental health needs. What's more, her father will be joining her! A self-described 'fair-weather cyclist', Diane tells us why she decided to take on her most challenging bike ride yet.

It’s a funny thing, turning 40. It seems to make people do the craziest things. Many of my friends have hit the big 4-0 in the last few months – or are about to - and a worrying number of them seem to think that this should be the trigger to do a major challenge event. A marathon in the main, though there are exceptions.

Not me. I’m no runner. I did the London 10k for United Response 10 years ago, but even then I was pretty sure that the rousing blasts of Chariots of Fire as I came up the finish at Pall Mall were a joke put on only at my expense.  Besides which, I like my knees. And I’ve seen what running can do to them. So surely there was no risk of my doing a challenge event?

But that was before I found out that United Response had places in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100...

Running is a definite no. But cycling – could I? I come from a keen (you might say obsessive) cycling family. My Dad used to regularly cycle 140 miles in a day. The elder of my two brothers goes to ride stages of the Tour de France “for fun”. He has a teardrop helmet and everything. The younger one is more maverick; some years ago he decided to do a sponsored bike ride for United Response with some of his mates. From London to Land’s End. As you do. I’ve never been in the same league; I’m a happy but sporadic leisure cyclist. A “fair weather” cyclist would be an accurate insult. So perhaps this was my opportunity to prove them (and me) wrong and see what I could do if I put my mind - and legs - to it.

And so it was, that days before my 41st birthday (I have never been an early adopter), I found myself signing up to RideLondon. There have been (many) times when I have thought “what have I done?!” But actually, I’m really enjoying training and getting out in the fresh air. I’ve given my road bike a little tlc (well, with a bit of help from my brother!) and I’m definitely getting fitter.

100 miles still feels like a way off, but there’s still more than three months to go and I’m sure we’ll get there. We? Oh yes, I forgot to say, that my lovely Dad has signed up to do the ride with me. I think he figured that if he was going to help with my training he might as well get in on the action! Well he couldn't let his daughter outdo him, now could he?

I decided to cycle for United Response as having worked here for ten years, I have seen first-hand how money raised makes such a positive impact on the lives of people we support with disabilities and mental health needs. My dad and I will be riding together and you can sponsor us on our Virgin Money Giving page.