When your son tells you that he has signed up to cycle 3,000 miles across America, taking on 175,000 feet of elevation in 8 to 9 days as part of a team of two in often hostile conditions facing extreme temperatures, sleep deprived and physically pushed to his maximum effort level, it’s easy to worry.
But I’m not. I’m not worried. In fact, I actually think he’ll win.
The thing is, Tom has been winning since the day he was born. He arrived in this world two and a half months premature. He weighed 3lb 5oz. Babies born at 30 weeks are unable to breathe without support, and Tom and his twin brother Sam were no exception. I wasn’t allowed to hold him at first. I watched him in an incubator as he took his first breath supported by oxygen. Too much oxygen, or too little could have a detrimental and life-long impact on him. I was all too aware of how vulnerable my boys were – and yet I overwhelmingly and instinctively knew that they would be OK.
I watched his little wins day by day. The oxygen being taken away, him now able to breathe without support. Holding him for the first time. Less and less heel pricks and blood tests taking place. His feeding tube being taken away, removal from his incubator into a cot. And finally, home. Content, happy, thriving, strong, determined.
Competition in our home has always been a thing. In the funniest, happiest and supportive way. Monopoly, a dance off, a spontaneous ‘Friends TV special quiz’, sprinting on the beach or a bollard jumping competition in the street – our little gang would find the competition in most things. And in most cases, (Tom throwing his brother’s Monopoly hotel estate off the board after being caught embezzling funds from the bank is an exception) we would be on the floor laughing our heads off.
I have watched Tom learn about himself in competition. From the losses and the gains.
He has learnt how do deal with major accidents on the bike, extreme conditions, mental and physical exhaustion. He has also developed the most insightful understanding of his body – its strengths and weakness. How the lungs, heart, muscles, bones, ligaments, fibres, brain deal with the ‘push’. He understands his own pain thresholds like nobody else and the feeling of utter euphoria following a breath-taking descent or the completion of an endurance goal.
He also knows what it is to see somebody you love deal with the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis. He knows that research, improved treatments and education has the power to change lives and to keep loved ones together. Tom and James’ fundraising has been phenomenal and will make a significant difference to the lives of others.
You can support them here:
My pride and love for Tom is boundless.
He is ready. He is prepared. They are a formidable team. The hard work is done. They have everything in place to succeed. They understand when to push and when to hold back.
I have every confidence in them.
I also know that the crew who will be holding a comfort blanket out to them every day in the form of physical and mental support.
As for me. I’ll be here. In Liverpool. Tracking them every single minute. And calling his brother Sam. At 5.34-ish. Every day.
Sarah (Tom’s mum)