Following a bout of flu in early 2015 Robert Wilkey began to suffer from breathlessness and found it increasingly difficult to walk more than a few hundred yards. After originally thinking that his symptoms were a legacy of the flu, his health gradually worsened.
“I was under the care of three different consultants all trying their very best to determine what was wrong with me,” explains Robert.
“It wasn’t until I met Professor Neil Herring, a cardiologist at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford that things took an immediate turn for the better.”
A shocking discovery
It transpired that Robert’s symptoms were a sign of something much more serious than the flu, and after several scans and x-rays, he was diagnosed with heart failure.
Following his diagnosis, Professor Herring told Robert that his life could be significantly improved if he was to fit a pacemaker.
“He was absolutely right,” says Robert, “the improvement was immediate and startling to the extent that I was able, once again, to exercise.”
Robert's pacemaker has been 'tuned' to compensate for the additional effort required during the 100-mile challenge
Back in the saddle
“At the age of 66, running and rowing (my main sports of the past) were out for various reasons so I decided to dust off my 20-year-old bike and start to cycle.”
“Fortunately, near to where I live is a disused railway line, very flat and about five miles in length, perfect I thought and that’s where it started last May.
“The first few rides were quite slow and it took me well over an hour to complete the 10 miles.”
Robert also began training indoors at a gym at his work, slowly building up his fitness and investing in a good quality road bike.
Signing up 100 miles
“I have always set goals in my life and believe that a glass is half full and not half empty,” explains Robert.
“I happened to watch last year’s RideLondon on the TV as well as the programme ‘Fixing Dad’ and thought to myself - I can do that.”
He will be joined on the ride by his younger son Simon, cycling a 100-mile route on closed roads through the capital, into Surrey’s stunning countryside, and finishing on The Mall in central London.
Robert is raising money for The Royal British Legion, and added:
“I am a retired Royal Air Force officer and well aware of the stresses and effects on families that Service life can bring.
“One thing that has kept me focused is the generous donations and sponsorship I received.“