PUBLISHED ON: 4 September 2015

About me and my reasons for riding

My name is Jess and I’m doing a PhD in the Department of Physics and centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London. In my lab I use lasers at microscopes to look at molecules at the nanoscale: but I’m not much use when it comes to cancer research.

My mum’s family carry a bad gene which makes it more likely we’ll contract breast cancer, and have suffered a lot to the disease. A cousin was my inspiration for doing the ride for Breast Cancer Now- with two young daughters, a new home, and a diagnosis of breast cancer- she began a PhD in Russian studies. One day she’s taking the bus to a hospital for treatment and the next she’s presenting her research in Moscow.

Breast Cancer Now mean there will be more women like my cousin- women who look cancer in the eye and say “not today”.


I was pretty lazy about training for RideLondon. Last year I did heaps of rides from London to Cambridge, Southend, Windsor, Oxford, Brighton and Paris. This year I’ve been stuck in a lab looking at bendy solar panels. I do cycle to work everyday (around 10 miles) and I loop Regent’s Park for hours on the weekend on my ultra-light absolutely perfect Condor bike. Before heading into the lab I always get in a bit of time on my spinning bike and a cheeky swim. Honestly- the cycling is easy compared to what Breast Cancer Now’s scientists are doing everyday in their labs.

The hardest part... fundraising

Fundraising is simple if your heart is in the cause- it’s not hard to convince people that Breast Cancer Now are worthy of their money. I just asked politely- and baked a lot of brownies for my neighbours and fellow physicists! Breast Cancer Now has world leading research centres all over the country and funds students studying breast cancer treatment, prevention and early detection / diagnosis.

I honestly believe by 2050 they’ll have changed the world.

The big day

Left the Olympic Park at 06:48 with a totally clear sky, blue moon and closed roads- London looked amazing. There were a lot of people talking about their carb intake/ training, which was quite funny as I'd only remembered about it on Friday (it’s been a big year!)

We cycled through Richmond Park (deer and all!) and up into the ominously named 'Surrey Hills'. All along the route people were outside their houses cheering us on- giving us water and sweets and words of encouragement. My god was the Leith Hill steep. Lots of people pushing bikes up...!

I was tough - probably weight of Jess + bike = ✓. The infamous 1000 ft Box Hill’ wasn't as steep, just much longer. But I live in Hampstead which means a 450 ft daily climb to get home, so I was treating it as 2.5 x Fitzjohns Avenue.

In retrospect, I think lots of people give in too early - they get so scared about the oncoming ascents, they unclip and hobble up. There were a few other bumps on the way down, but then about 15 miles of pure downhill into central London. It was brilliant.

The Mall was alive with celebrations, and the best part - I cycled in to the Lego Movie song, "Everything is Awesome"!

Take part

Has Jess' story inspired you to take part in RideLondon to raise money for Breast Cancer Now? Take a look at our RideLondon page and find out how to join our team.