England and West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster believes taking part in Cure Leukaemia’s London 2 Paris bike ride in 2015 led by former England, Crystal Palace and Wolves footballer and blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas helped his recovery from a serious knee injury.
The 33-year-old shot-stopper ruptured a cruciate knee ligament in April 2015 and underwent reconstructive surgery. He was invited to take part in the bike ride in June and West Brom’s Director of Performance, Dr Mark Gillett, was quick to grant Ben permission to ride.
Mark, who heads up the medicine and sports science operation at the Premier League club, said: ‘Ben’s a keen cyclist and we knew he was going to be out for 6-8 months with his knee injury. Rehab during the summer can be very boring for players and it is important to keep them motivated and Cure Leukaemia’s ride came at the perfect time and we knew it would be beneficial both mentally and physically for Ben.
"With knee injuries we have to build up the leg muscle strength and cycling is perfect for working the quads and hamstrings and encouraging movement in the knee so this event was perfect for Ben at this stage of his recovery.
This can all be done on a static bike at the training ground but from a mental aspect it was far better for Ben to be on the ride with the amazing scenery, camaraderie and the element of competition with his fellow cyclists."
Gillett, who has also been first team doctor at Chelsea FC, has recommended the ride to other medical staff at clubs around the country:
"I have no doubt it helped in Ben’s rehabilitation and I would recommend this event to any other footballers recovering from this sort of injury."
Foster, who has represented England eight times, continued:
"Rehab from injury can be boring. You are stuck inside the gym looking at the same four walls and see the same people everyday so riding London 2 Paris was a great opportunity for me to challenge myself and have a great experience to raise funds for a fantastic cause. It did me the world of good both mentally and physically.
My main concern wasn’t the knee; it was whether I could complete the 500km in four days and how sore my bum would be!
The ride was so safe with the closed roads in France and having the support crew of physios and mechanics at every stop and in tow made such a big difference. The ride could not have been better organised and it was a pleasure to be a part of it."
Ben was keen to fundraise for the charity and raised over £10,000 for Cure Leukaemia ranking the finish in Paris alongside some of his proudest achievements in football:
"Arriving in Paris was an amazing feeling and very emotional. My wife was at the finish to meet me and emotions were running high for everyone at the end. Many were riding for people they have lost or who were battling blood cancer at that time so it was an amazing feeling to be there at the end."
Ben can’t take part in this year’s ride from May 19th-23rd but he was keen to wish Team Revolution good luck:
"The ride caters for everyone, all standards, all abilities and all ages. It was an incredible experience I will never forget and I would recommend it to anyone. I’d love to have taken part again this year but it’s not been possible but I’d like to wish good luck to everyone taking part in May, and I look forward to being involved in future rides for Cure Leukaemia."
To sign up for London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution 2016 go to www.L2Prevolution.com
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives