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Bronchiectasis didn’t stop me becoming a cycling coach

Dave struggled to play football when he was a child – now he cycles 100 miles a week.

Dave Lawson

Dave took on the Manchester 100

It’s funny how things have worked out for me. I used to stare out the window at my classmates playing PE – now I’m a cycling coach, training athletes who could be shortlisted for Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics.

I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis when I was very young. Back then, there wasn’t nearly as much information on the condition and treatment was by trial and error.

I felt so restricted – I just wanted to join in with my classmates. But if it was windy or cold, I’d be wrapped up like I was going to the Arctic. Or I’d be told ‘no’, full stop.

The tipping point

The whole time I was twiddling my thumbs watching others play sports, I kept thinking, “what can I do to change this?”

Then, when I was a teenager, I found my ticket to freedom – cycling. I had a paper round in the semi-rural village where I grew up, and I started using a bike to get around the tow paths and dirt roads. Then the penny dropped – if I get into cycling, this could benefit me for years to come.

Cycling is challenging

Being a cyclist with bronchiectasis is not always easy. There’s the constant clearing your throat, which can dry it out. There’s the coughing and exhaling, and how your chest feels tight because you’re hunched over the handlebars. And I always need to remember to wear a base layer.

But that didn’t stop me from taking on the Manchester 100 with my dad and best friend to raise money for charity. It took 6 long hours, and the final 20 miles were really rough. I felt it in my chest, my neck – everything! But I remembered that I’d come this far, and I almost wanted to show all the people who said I couldn’t do it.

Teaching and inspiring

Now, I’m a cycle instructor and I love it. I work with all age groups and abilities, from beginners who are 5 years old, to talented riders who are being considered for the Great Britain team!

I want my cycling to help people with lung conditions feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It can be a miserable time when it’s bad weather, and you have to take so much extra care when exercising.

The trick is to start off slow, and build up to it. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but at the end, the sense of achievement is more than worth it.

If you feel daunted at the idea of exercising when you have a lung condition, don’t. Check out our advice on how to exercise with a lung condition

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9 February 2016