‘Heroic’ teenager gears up for 55-mile ride in L’Eroica Britannia

Joe Allen from Blackwell near Buxton is to ride in the l'Eroica Britannia vintage cycle race. The bike will be salvaged from his parents old ones and he'll wear some of his dad's old kit
Joe Allen from Blackwell near Buxton is to ride in the l'Eroica Britannia vintage cycle race. The bike will be salvaged from his parents old ones and he'll wear some of his dad's old kit

A proud mum has hailed her teenage son a hero for tackling a tough bike ride for charity.

Joe Allen, 15, suffers from a strain of Vasculitis disease which causes joint pain in his legs, hips and arms.

But that hasn’t stopped him signing up for a 55-mile ride through the Peak District as part of the L’Eroica Britannia event on Sunday, June 22.

His mum Ruth, of said: “L’Eroica means heroic and that epitomises Joe. It is a heroic effort. We are all in awe of him for his determination. He is very headstrong and is determined that he is going to do it.”

Joe, of Blackwell, near Taddington, will be pedalling up steep hills near his home to raise money for Vasculitis UK. He said: “I recently found out that I am in remission and thought that it would be a good opportunity to raise money for the charity.”

A pupil at Lady Manners School in Bakewell, he was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis when he was 11.

Ruth said: “He just came downstairs with a swollen eyelid and thought he had got something in his eye. The doctor gave him eyedrops and then a week later gave him more eyedrops.”

When the swelling on his right eyelid didn’t subside, Joe went to Macclesfield Hospital and then Sheffield Children’s Hospital where a CT scan showed a large lump behind his eyeball. “If it hadn’t been noticed, he would have lost his sight,” said Ruth.

Surgeons performed two biopsies, cutting through his eyeball to get to the back of his eye. Ruth said: “They couldn’t remove the lump because it was too close to the lacrimal gland (tear) gland and Joe was put on immuno-suppressant drugs and steroids.”

The drugs caused Joe’s white blood cell count to drop, making him susceptible to bugs. He contracted glandular fever last year and the combination of drugs and fever caused his white blood cell count to fall severely.

After recovering from his fever, Joe got the good news that he had been waiting for in October when doctors told him that the disease was in remission. Ruth said: “He still has to have regular tests in hospital; it is something that may be with him for the rest of his life.

“He is very brave and doesn’t like a lot of fuss. For the first two years of going to Lady Manners School, no-one knew he was suffering from anything. If you saw him all the time when he was ill, you would say there was nothing wrong with him, but you don’t see what is going on inside.”

On Sunday, Joe gave a reading at Taddington Church where parishoners donated their collection to Vasculitis UK.

John Mills, chairman of Vasculitis UK, said: “Joe is an example for all. Having been affected by Wegeners Granulomatosis at the age of 11, he has borne all the trials and tribulations with quiet bravery and fortitude and taking part in the Eroica Britannia, cycling 55 miles, is a great challenge.

“Growing up on a farm high in the Derbyshire hills makes you tough!”

To sponsor Joe on his bike ride, click onto his justgiving page at: http://www.justgiving.com/Joe-Allen5

He will be among 2,000 cyclists from across the globe heading to the Peak District for an event celebrating sport, cameraderie and good food.

The event has historically been run in the warm Tuscan hills of Italy for 17 years and this will be its first time on British soil.

The L’Eroica Britannia event will see riders clad in vintage gear travel through miles of untamed countryside along 100-mile, 55-mile and 30-mile trails.

One participant got into the spirit early, setting off from Berlin last Friday on his vintage road bike and themed cycling kit to pedal the 1400km route to Bakewell.

Among those taking part in the event will be a nine-year-old and an 82-year-old.

A choir will greet riders at the end of the Monsal tunnel and six villages en route will be festooned with vintage decorations, offering refreshment stops to the cyclists.

John Smedley have created limited edition vintage inspired Men of Steel cycling jerseys especially for the occasion. Riders will pass under the bridge in Lea Bridge where the jerseys are actually made.

The Duke of Devonshire will launch the event by opening a three-day vintage festival at Bakewell Showground on Friday, June 20.

Seventy children from Great Longstone School will sing in the opening ceremony which will be attended by West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin, professional rider Malcolm Elliott, the Eroica Britannia team Tim Hubbard, Nick Cotton, Gian Bohan and Marco Mori, and the founder of Eroica in Italy, Claudio Marinageli.

The free festival is dedicated to flamboyant dressing up, vintage sales and live music from Gregory S Davies Band, The Payroll Union and the Daydream Club.

Thornbridge brewery have produced a festival tipple, L’Eroica Britannia Pale Ale, especially for the occasion.

Sunday’s welcome home ppart for the riders will include a Spitfire flyover at 3pm.