Episode 136

Luke Grenfell-Shaw: Responding to life's challenges through Bristol 2 Beijing

Back in episode 11 Luke Grenfell-Shaw was passionate about encouraging others to control how they live each day after he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 24. When we last chatted, the keen age group triathlete was just setting out on his Bristol to Beijing adventure, on Chris his tandem, to show what can be achieved when living with cancer. 2.5 years later after cycling 30,000km and raising £300,000 for charity, Luke is back on the podcast. China was closed due to Covid, so Luke actually finished his ride in Bristol, after cycling the final 3,000km on a stationary bike at different locations around London for a month.

This is one special listen.

You'll hear:

08:30 Luke's initial thoughts on completing his Bristol to Beijing expedition in the UK, rather than in China. "It was like a wedding, without getting married. But it felt like I was cycling from Bath to Bristol, ie I wasn't cycling to Beijing." Luke admits he would still like to complete the China leg of the adventure. It was important for me to take control and do what I could and by doing that I know I will have set out what I wanted to do and I will have done myself proud.

11:30 We talk about the aims of Luke's expedition. Part of it was to complete a dream that I have had since I was 15, which was to cycle around the world. One thing that this journey became is an expression of what you can do with cancer. There was an amazing opportunity to share this journey with other people with cancer. But really we all only have one life so are you going to do the things that really matter and how are you going to face the challenges that you face along the way?

15:30 Luke talks about the different UK and national charities he was supporting and how 17 year old Dev ended up on the back of Chris, Luke's tandem, in India.

20:50 We hear about how heavy 'Chris' is and how difficult Chris can be to manoeuvre and the time the brakes went coming down a hill in Kyrgystan.

27:30 Luke thinks he was 'lucky' to have had some of the experiences he has had. But he also talks about the support he has had from others, for example how he managed to get permission to cycle through 8 countries that had closed their borders due to Covid. We chat about the impact that Covid had on his expedition.

32:30 Luke talks about his time in Ukraine and what he saw in Mariupol.

35:00 Was Luke's own health and cancer on his mind much during the ride? "When I started the ride, I didn't expect to finish it. This isn't the sort of cancer that you survive." At the beginning of the ride, my mum wasn't expecting me to get to Beijing. In the very early days of the ride, I had aches in my shoulder. I thought it had come back. I thought it was all going to be over before it started. That's how present it was, that's how real it as at the beginning.

38:00 Luke talks about the scans he had during his expedition. "Each time I thought this is it, this could be over"

44:30 Luke explains how passionate he is about getting his message across about living life, sharing his message. We talk about if he thinks he is the same. "Some things are, some things aren't. The thing that is the same is the core belief of mine that every day should be worth living. For me, I have to ask the question, if I were to die tomorrow, would I be happy with how I have lived today."

50:30 Something I have spent a lot of time thinking about recently is how do my beliefs sit alongside what everyone else is doing? In the past I think I have probably been judgemental of others. It's really important to do stuff for the right reasons.

55:30 What one thing would Luke like the money he has raised to do? I credit being active and my mindset as the number one thing as to why I am here to do, so I would love the way that Doctors see exercise as a necessary part of treatment changing.

1:01:30 Luke talks about his book and a documentary and his message for people to take away. "Taking risks and taking opportunities is something that I have rarely regretted. Think about how you can life your life and live your dreams even in a small way."

Find out more about this week's guests

Luke Grenfell-Shaw Instagram

Bristol 2 Beijing website

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About the Podcast

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Inside Tri Show
Helen Murray brings you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond

About your host

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Helen Murray

Helen has been working in triathlon for a decade as an athlete, coach and broadcaster.

Helen hosts the Inside Tri Show podcast bringing you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond