A 30-year-old bike enthusiast from Abercave near Ystradgynlais is taking on a physical challenge in fabulous style this weekend, cycling 75 miles in drag – resplendent in a frock, fascinator and gorgeous wig, all for a very good cause.
David Godden, who works for the Penderyn Distillery says, “I was born with a heart condition called a ‘Patent Foramen Ovale’ which is very common, usually goes unnoticed and doesn’t generally affect those with it.
“However, after collapsing at work one day doctors discovered my heart had become enlarged and thickened showing all the symptoms of ‘Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy’ which coupled with the PFO meant more blood was flowing through the centre of my heart rather than around it, as it should do.
“After many procedures over the course of around 4 years and with the British Heart Foundation’s help I am now healthy again and able to carry on the sport of cycling I love so much, and this is why I am completing this charity challenge combining my love of mountain biking and raising money for a charity close to my heart, pardon the pun!”
This year David will be undertaking Europe’s biggest charity mountain bike event, the BHF London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride with his friend Dan Akers as part of the team ‘Frocking hell’, so named because if they reach their £1,000 fundraising goal, they promise to ride the 75 miles in dresses.
A passionate cyclist, David says his diagnosis meant he’d had to put his love of the sport on hold, “Giving up competitive cycling was crushing. It nearly broke me. I was told a month before, that I was on top of my game.
“I was the champion of my region, so being told that and then having to give up the sport was devastating. I’d put in so much hard work. My mates would be out drinking, while I was training and racing. I had all these aspirations and then had them ripped away. I really struggled for the first year. I almost shut down. I didn’t tell my family how difficult I was finding it. My mum still doesn’t know how bad it was as I can’t bring myself to tell her.
“Luckily, I have some really good friends. I confided in my friend Dan. He had lost his father to a heart condition. I remember talking to him and both of us just sitting together crying. After that we really lent on each other. Dan and another of my friends were real rocks and helped me through it.
“Then I found out I could do the mountain biking. That was the release. I took the bike up to North Wales and spent a month there. It cleared my head. When I was time trialling, it was really intense. I can’t do that effort now. With the mountain biking I started doing some downhill racing, but I found I couldn’t sustain a full race season. In the end I had to step away from that. I now just mountain bike for pleasure.”
This weekend David and Dan are determined to complete the gruelling London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride together.
David says, “75 miles is longer than I would normally cycle now. We do have food stops to regroup and refuel and you can take it at your own pace. There are some big climbs, but you can come down the other side.”
David added, “We’ve both been affected by heart conditions, and many more people and families are affected by them every day – that’s why we’re hoping to raise money to fund vital research to literally stop the heartache many people go through. There is still so much we need to learn about these complex organs and systems in which they work and that all takes funding, and knowing we’ve helped that even if only a small way, that that makes us feel very happy, and very proud.”
Adam Fletcher, head of BHF Cymru said, “We are very grateful to David, Dan and everyone who’s taking part in this awesome challenge to raise vital funds for the BHF. Our research to help save and improve lives is only made possible thanks to our inspirational supporters like them. We need the public’s support now more than ever as the BHF marks its 60th anniversary year.
“We’re so grateful to everyone who chooses to fundraise to help us beat heartbreak forever.”