Last month, our new chair elect took on one of the most exciting and challenging sporting events to ever come to our city – the Velo Birmingham.   

Niels de Vos, who will be taking up the role of chair in November, was amongst the thousands of riders who cycled 100 miles across Birmingham, Sandwell, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Cycling alongside his Dad, Niels has so far raised an impressive £3k for our Hospice.

Here, he tells us what motivated him to take on his first ever 100-mile cycle, as well as his best and most challenging moments on route.

I was eager to take on the Velo Birmingham to show my support for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. As a Brummie born and bred, it’s always exciting to see such large-scale sporting events come to my home city – and the Velo Birmingham definitely seemed to capture the imagination of our local community.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to tackle the ride on my own as I completed it with my Dad, Len. As a lifelong cyclist, it’s taken him nearly 50 years to persuade me to share his passion and so it felt very rewarding to share this experience with him.

Having recently been appointed chairman to the Hospice, I was keen to take on an event that would be a big challenge and encourage friends and family to get behind me and sponsor. Over the years, I have known a few people whose lives have been positively impacted by the work of Birmingham St Mary’s and every time, their story is the same – one of huge praise and thanks for the expert care and support provided by the Hospice. End of life care is a vital service and Birmingham St Mary’s delivers it to an incredibly high-standard.

That’s what motivated me to take on this cycle – knowing how valued Birmingham St Mary’s is to local families and the impact it has in the local community.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to prepare for the cycle as much as I would have liked to, as I’ve been incredibly busy with work. As CEO of UK Athletics, I’ve spent the last few months preparing and staging the World Athletics Championships in London – which hadn’t left me much time to get on my bike and train.

That was never going to stop me from taking on the challenge though. With my Dad’s support – along with the motivation to raise funds for such a vital service – I felt ready to take on the cycle on the day.

There were definitely some tough moments along the route. The fact that we had to climb over 8000ft was particularly taxing, along with facing the four worst climbs in the last 15 miles. Fortunately though, for every difficult part there was also a brilliant one.

One of my top moments in fact was about 60 miles in, when we reached one really long downwards hill. I was able to hit a speed of nearly 45 miles per hour – something I could never have done with cars on the road. 

When I finally reached the finish line, I felt an overwhelming sense of triumph. The cycle was both enjoyable and demanding but helping to raise crucial funds for the Hospice made it all worthwhile. 

Thank you to everyone who supported my Dad and I – with your support, we’ve raised an incredible £3k. Together, we can ensure that even more local families can benefit from the extraordinary service of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice.

Thank you Niels for cycling 100 miles for us and raising such a terrific amount!

If you've been inspired by Niels and would like to take part in one of our events, take a look here on what we have coming up.