A Story of Hope and Courage by Bike

Derek Boocock, 59, from England, is no stranger to adversity; he’s faced it his entire life. He’s a round-the-world cyclist and in remission from cancer.

Derek’s story begins in the small town of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. At the age of 15, Derek rode his bicycle to get to and from friends’ houses, school, and just about everywhere else. At 21, Derek joined the British Army and took up mountaineering, eventually leading his regimental climbing team to the summit of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc.

Throughout his twenties, Derek went from bicycling as transportation to competitive racing. Operating at the extreme edge of the sport, he competed in many Polaris Challenges in the UK and in the Swiss one-day race, the Grand Raid Cristalp – which crosses the Alps from Verbier to Grimentz.

bicycle camping in china

Wild camping in the mountains of northern China. Photo courtesy of Derek Boocock.

Derek’s successes in cycling took a sledgehammer blow when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, leaving Derek with little choice but to step away from competition. However, he didn’t relinquish cycling entirely. “I became a cycle trainer and coach, both in the UK and leading groups in the Alps/Pyrenees for events such as the Marmot and Etape du Tour,” he recalled. In 2007, Derek’s wife of over twenty years, Caroline, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Caroline fought her breast cancer hard, “like a tiger”, according to Derek. Though when the cancer returned in 2009 following remission, it was stage four – terminal. Caroline was given between twelve and eighteen months to live so the couple made a bucket list of ten things they’d do together before Caroline would pass away.

They did the top three things on Caroline’s list: she was baptized, the couple renewed their wedding vows, and finally, holidayed in Scotland. “It was her favourite place in the whole world,” Derek recounted. Caroline passed away just nine weeks following her new prognosis. This sent Derek into a deep, dark depression. For more than two years, a dark cloud hung over Derek. Then in October 2012, Derek’s life began again, anew – when his prostate cancer was discovered to have spread and declared terminal. Upon hearing the news, Derek made a life-changing decision. He would ride his bicycle around the world, until he was no longer able to.