In just under two weeks, British TV star Denise Van Outen will lead a group of celebrity friends including; Kate Thornton, Michelle Heaton, Chloe Lewis, Lydia Bright and Sam Mann on a gruelling 187 mile bike ride across Kerala, India, to raise money for brain tumour research.
The team will cycle an incredible 50 miles each day through the tough terrain of southern India for the five-day challenge, which takes place during Brain Tumour Awareness Month.
This is to honour the memory of fitness star Nicki Waterman, who died aged just 53 from an aggressive type of brain tumour called a glioblastoma. This is a type of cancer which an average of 2200 people in the UK are diagnosed with every year, with 80% dying within a year of diagnosis.
In her final days, brave Nicki told her friends, including Denise: “There is nothing you can do for me now — but please help others.” And to honour that plea, the gang are busy training hard so they’re fit and healthy enough to undertake such a huge challenge.
Lumity sat down with Denise Van Outen, and in this touching and inspiring exclusive interview, she explains to us why this is a cause that is so close to her heart, and how she has been training for this mammoth cycle ride – which she’s hoping will raise as much as £50,000 for desperately needed research.
Tell us about this challenge and why it’s so important to you.
“I do a charity challenge every year and I always choose a charity close to my heart. This year I’m doing the challenge in memory of my dear friend Nicki Waterman who passed away last year from a brain tumour. Nicki was just 53 and was the Sun newspaper’s fitness expert for many years. She always went out of her way to help people battle illness, depression, weight loss and low self esteem. She was always there for me – we trained together and she would give me advice I would trust. The cycle across Kerala seems a fitting thing to do in her name as it’ll be challenging, fun and spiritual.”
How are you preparing?
“I’ve been doing as many spin classes as possible,” Denise says. “They are the best option as training on the roads throughout the winter months is a bit tricky. I try to push myself as much as possible to get my fitness up and when I’m flagging and thinking of slowing down I think of Nicki and how she would be out training everyday whatever the weather and what she would say if I was slacking during one of our work outs and it spurs me on. “I’ve been doing group classes too with some of the other guys who are joining me on the cycle, it’s a great way to stay motivated and it’s good for us all to get to know each other before we head to India.”
Will you have a support team during the cycle?
“The cycle is organised by Charity Challenge and we always travel with a guide, a medic and a support vehicle,” Denise explains. “I know we will all be in safe hands. That said you have to have your wits about you and concentrate. I’ve cycled in India before and you never know what’s around the corner. One minute you’ll be riding on a great stretch of road with tarmac and the next you’re dodging potholes.”
You must be scared and exhilarated?
Denise says: “I’m really excited. Every time I’ve done a challenge like this I have really loved it. Pushing yourself to the limit in an amazing environment is so worthwhile. I have so many fond memories of the challenges I have done. This time around their are 20 of us doing it so we are bond to have fun.
“Some of the gang include Kate Thornton, Chloe Lewis, Michelle Heaton, Kye Sones and Lydia Bright. It’s my third time doing a challenge with Lydia Bright, she wasn’t going to be able to make it at first as she was doing the TV show The Jump. As soon as she was knocked out she was on the phone and we managed to get another place for her. “My partner Eddie is doing it this time around as are my friends Sam and Jemma.”
What will each day involve?
“We will get up really early each day and have a hearty breakfast before setting off early. We ideally want to avoid the midday sun so we will get as much cycling in during the morning before it gets too hot. We will stop for lunch and then get the rest done. After that we will chill, eat a good meal and get an early night.”
What’s in your luggage?
“I always take plenty of snacks – energy bars and sweets to keep me going. I’m going to take my Lumity vitamins which I have been taking for a while now. I love them – they give me extra energy and have really helped me sleep better. I often suffer with insomnia and don’t like taking sleeping tablets as I still feel a bit groggy in the morning. Lumity has really helped. I’ll also be packing loads of sunscreen and plenty of light workout gear – padded cycling shorts are a must… there are certain places a girl should never get blisters!” Lumity is delighted and proud to be sponsoring this epic undertaking and we would love it if you could get involved too. If you would like to help Denise and her friends raise money for brain tumour research you can sponsor her team here. Even a small amount of money will help make a huge difference.
You can follow the group’s progress on social media using the dedicated Nicki Waterman Kerala Challenge hashtag #NWKC2017 or if you are in the UK, you can donate via text message. Simply text NICKI to 70660 to donate £5.
Are you inspired by Denise Van Outen and her friends cycling across India? Read our interview with superwoman Beth French who went from being wheelchair-bound in her teens to doing a record-breaking swim around the globe.