The Fix talks to an old friend of Quella James Golding about surviving cancer, breaking world records, and his goal of being the first man to win Ride Across America.
We have known each other a while and we are very familiar with your back story and the horrendous health issues you have battled, but it’s inspirational stuff and it would be great to share it with our Fix readers.
I don’t mind talking about it at all because, horrible as it was at the time, it has brought about so many positives in my life and changed my perspective on almost everything. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and told that my chances of survival were bleak. The following months consisted of some very gruelling treatment and a prognosis that I might well spend my life in a wheelchair. As you can see, I managed to avoid that, but I did spend 4 months in one and then got a second diagnosis of another tumour 3 years later. It was hard going but it was during those times that I developed a resolve to turn the negatives into positives and I will always be grateful for that.
Since your recovery, it is fair to see you have become a fairly bonkers cyclist. Could you give the Fix readers an insight into what ‘bonkers’ about cycling means in your case?
Yes, bonkers is a good way of putting it!! There have been so many big rides and so much training. It is fair to say that some of the early smaller sportives I did after cancer also were some of the hardest at the time when my body was still massively depleted. Since then, I guess some of the bigger ‘headliners’ are LA to Miami (3473miles), London to Edinburgh in 2 days, 9 x Haute Route 7-day trips across the Alps and Pyrenees, the Mallorca 312km and pre-running the Tour of Britain route. The most recent big one was the Ride Across The West in the States earlier this year which has qualified me for the Race Across America 2020. I have definitely missed loads out, but they are all on my website.
And, you have raised a few quid for charity in the process – we know you are a modest soul but please tell us the magic number?!?
I like to think that I am modest, but I am also unbelievably proud to say that I have raised over £3million for charity since my recovery from cancer.
Huge congratulations on breaking the seven day world record, talk us through that.
In a word – hard – 1766 miles of hard! As with a lot of challenges, it becomes a huge mind game. Am I in real distress or real discomfort? Discomfort – keep going!! Do I want to stop more than I want this World record? World record please! I have learnt that if there is a clear goal, I can nearly always keep going. I am definitely an endurance rider not a racer.
So the big project now is Ride Across America, where are you at with that?
I want to be the first British athlete to win and I am confident that I can do it. Endurance races aren’t as well known as the Grand Tours but I can assure you that this is a monster. It is widely recognised as the hardest bike race in the world. To win, you need a proper team behind you and I have secured some great sponsors and we are well on the way but I am still fundraising and would love to hear from any readers who would like to get involved in helping a GB rider make history. It’s a huge financial commitment as well as a personal one and cannot be done without a professional team in place.
Give us a few stats!!
There are many, I know them all far too well!! Here’s a few – the total race is 30% longer than the Tour de France and is complete without any rest days. I’ll race 3000 miles total, approx. 375 miles per day for 8 days against the clock, average sleep per night 3 hours, over 17,000 metres of climbing up to a max height of 3309 metres (1.5 times Mont Ventoux!!) To break the current record, I need to get from San Diego to Maryland in under 7 days and 16 hours! Of all the stats, that final number is the one that I wake up in the morning thinking about. Sadly, all the rest are out of my control!!
Bloody hell!! It sounds horrific. How’s training going?
Really good thanks, notwithstanding a few domestic issues. Louise, me, and our two kids moved to Portugal to give me easy access to the right training environment – better weather, quieter roads, and plenty of climbing. The house desperately needed a new kitchen and a few other bits. The local builders arrived and took it upon themselves to make their first job ripping out the old kitchen, so we are currently living in a house with two young kids and a makeshift kitchen in the front room. The builder is now well behind on the project and Louise’s patience is wearing very thin. Apart from that we love it!!
Is the Quella still getting a run out for the odd trip to the local bar?
Hmmm, I am sad to report that the local bar is not really on the agenda, unfortunately it’s definitely more bananas that beer at present and my lovely Quella is hidden at the back of the garage behind the majority of my furniture, a large pile of building materials and a cement mixer!! Get the house finished, ride across America, and then I will be back on my trusty single-speed and definitely enjoying a few cold ones!! As usual, ‘One step at a time!!!’
James – as always its been an absolute pleasure. We wish you the very best luck with the project and the fundraising – if anyone can do this, it is you!
James Golding is aiming to be the first British rider to win Ride Across America, the hardest endurance bike race in the world. It’s a huge challenge and despite having some great sponsors on board James is still fundraising hard in between countless hours of training. There are still some amazing sponsorship opportunities available.
If you are interested in helping James and promoting your brand, visit his website at www.onestepatatimeuk.com