A 65-year-old man from Clitheroe has claimed a stunning age-group victory in the iconic Alpe D’huez Duathlon in France despite finishing treatment for aggressive and advanced stage four prostate cancer just four months ago.
Nick Dinsdale, clinical director and head bike-fitter at NJD Sports Injury & Bikefit Centre in the town, earned a gold medal in the (65-69) age-group range at the infamously gruelling duathlon, which involves a 6.5km run, a 15km uphill cycle, and a 2.5km run to finish. Still on a testosterone block and clinically anaemic, Nick finished in two hours, 35 minutes.
"I felt fantastic crossing the line," he said. "The Alpe D’huez is iconic, and when you've been diagnosed with advanced cancer, it's quite daunting. But to do it, then find out you've won..." He trails off. "My objective when first diagnosed was being capable of simply getting to the start line and hopefully just to survive and complete it. To win my age-group was unbelievable."
Originally diagnosed with cancer in March last year, Nick continued to race through chemotherapy and even qualified for both the Alpe D’huez and the 2019 Târgu Mures ETU European Championships in Romania earlier this year. He finished fifth in his age group in Târgu Mures, and puts his athletic exploits down to a combination of physical and mental fitness.
"[The Alpe D’huez] is a tough race and I was very pleased with the times; the ride was relentless," said Nick, who is a member of the Ribble Valley Triathlon Club and Clitheroe Bike Club. "The climb is probably the most well-known in the Tour de France - all the hairpins had a plaque dedicated to stage winners from past Tours, including Geraint Thomas.
"It's like you're drunk with how hard you're concentrating," added Nick, who has completed roughly 20 races so far this year and credits his win to 'meticulous planning and training strategies'. "There were a lot who didn't finish, so it was all about being disciplined. If you set objectives in the short and medium term, you work towards a longer-term objective.
"You need targets along the way to progress."
As if not quite superhuman enough, Nick was also diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis 12 years ago and told not to even contemplate the possibility of racing. Now he gets by with a weekly injection from his rheumatologist, who is understandably "absolutely thrilled" with his star patient's progress. "[My doctor] encourages me to be proactive and I'm going to continue racing for the rest of the year and build slowly," Nick said. "I intend to go back next year and have another go when I'll be about 2kg lighter."
With around 47,700 new prostate cancer diagnoses in the UK every year - about 130 every day - Nick is also out to raise crucial awareness of a disease which kills more people than breast cancer. "I'm trying to promote awareness of prostate cancer, the unreliability of standard checks, and the fact that when you've been diagnosed with any cancer, quality of life doesn't have to end.
"The mental and physical sides go hand-in-hand - adapt your mind, be proactive in your attitude, and things can be achieved," he said.