Danish Adventure for Midlands rider Vince Jenkins - back in the saddle after beating cancer

The story starts when Vince Jenkins from Daventry, entered the Tour of Cambridge Chrono Time Trial, a UCI qualifying event that took place not long after he had managed a 22 minute at the VTTA National 10, another target on his list. However, he had to race in a lower age group and was not over confident of qualification. On the day it was howling a gale so strong that the barriers were being blown over and this continued all the way out of the industrial park from a ramp start inside an exhibition building. Once out into the countryside it was a twisty, hilly course on closed, but narrow country roads with sharp descents before returning to the main road back into Peterborough. It had a real razzmatazz stage-managed prize medal presentation where Vince was delighted to collect his Bronze Medal.


The story really starts back in 2012 when the 74-year-old won the British and Welsh 25-mile, and the Welsh and Midland 10-mile time trial championships for his age group. Just months later he was shocked to discover he had an aggressive form of skin cancer. “I couldn’t believe it when they said it was cancer – I had just clocked my fastest-ever time for 25 miles and felt fine,” exclaimed Vince. It had spread to his saliva glands forcing him to undergo major surgery followed by a two-week stay at Northampton General Hospital and six weeks of radiotherapy. Vince’s treatment was successful but he had to write off last year’s racing season while he recovered.


Back to this year, and following his success at the qualifying event, Vince received an email from the UCI in Switzerland inviting him to compete in the World Championship for the Masters and Amateurs at Hobro in Denmark on 3rd September. This really was a big deal and maybe the biggest event he could ever ride so how could he possibly refuse? Vince was fortunate his sponsor Leisure Lakes Bikes kindly agreed to get the necessary UCI legal frame and bars but despite the fact they were ordered in good time, the bike was not ready in its legal form, and correct size, until the weekend before he left for Denmark with Leisure Lakes, which has a store at Daventry’s Abbey Retail Park doing all they could to meet the deadline.


In early September, Vince and his wife Margarita flew to Denmark and then took a four hour drive to Hobro. On arrival the bike had to be reassembled and ready for bike check and registration. Soon it was time to check out the course, attend the race briefing and finally walk proudly with the GB flag parade behind the band and chocolate box Danish Solders in traditional dress, with 40 other nation flags in to the centre of Hobro. Come the big day, Vince put on his first ever GB skin suit, signed on, and then managed to borrow a turbo from the Australian Marquee for his warm up. Once over, another bike check before entering the starter tent, and then the famous five finger start indicator together with the beeps and lights before  Vince was off down the ramp. Through a technical section out of the park and as he ‘up’ed the tempo he tried to get in to the big ring, but horror of horrors it would not change. Wondering if his race was already over, Vince approached a sharp left hander and long steep climb away from the town so just had to concentrate on pacing himself so as not blow it in this first section of the 20km.


Passing the 30 second man from South Africa before the top of the hill, Vince had another go to get in to the big ring, but no success, so pressed on in higher revs. Then suddenly Vince was in the big ring and getting near to the goal of 50km per hour.  He could see his minute man in the distance going up the next long climb before turning left at the top for an up and down loop and more sharp turns for the return leg. Playing it safe Vince decided not to cut the corner but go round the traffic bollard and then two more climbs and  a dangerous decent before the long grind home. Motoring down a super fast section Vince made a wicked right hand turn at the bottom in to the technical section within the park, where a number of riders had already crashed. It was now flat out between the barriers, a hard left and right for the final sprint back on the tri-bars and under the finishing banner. Freewheeling to a halt, the moment and occasion finally got to him after all the stress, build up and travel, not to mention all that work during the long way back from the surgery and everything that went with it. As Vince shed the first of a few tears of relief, he saw his wife running towards him with great excitement. It had just been announced over the loudspeaker and on the Big Screen that Vince had come second.  Then the mobile starts going mad, as apparently all this had been shown live on You Tube and friends and relatives were sending their congratulations.


The excited couple made their way to the town centre for the next big event of the Awards presentation, where Vince received a briefing about the strict protocol to be followed. All podium winners had to be in their national racing kit and were not allowed to wear either sun glasses or hats. Vince led out behind the podium girls in their black dresses each carrying a silver tray with the appropriate medal. The noise was deafening as the fanfare of trumpets played together with the announcement over the loudspeaker as 1st 2nd and 3rd stood in front of their podium.


The Danish rider took his Bronze Medal and mounted the podium and then It Vince’s turn to be announced and receive the medal from the UCI Official, followed by the Bouquet of Flowers from the Danish Cycling President and a big wave to the crowd with the final fanfare for the new World Champion from Czechoslovakia who beat him by just three seconds. “Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that such an event would have been possible after what I have been through and I would like to thank my surgeon, the staff at Northampton General and Macmillan Nurses together with my wonderful wife and my generous sponsor, Leisure Lake Bikes, for helping to get me there,” concluded Vince.