My name is Fred Cuijpers. I was born in 1962 (53 years old) with moderate hemophilia A. I accepted this bike challenge, because I know from my own experience how important engaging in sports is. I’ve had the good fortune to engage in sports and exercise from a very early age on. It’s a great motivator, and a healthy developed musculature is essential to better protecting joints from bleedings and stimulating recovery.
Because blood clotting medication wasn’t as advanced when I was young, bleeds lasted longer, which led to permanent joint damage to both my ankles and my left elbow. During the last couple of years, I’ve had surgery to largely maintain mobility. During the 1980s, blood clotting medication unfortunately led to viral infections with HIV, Hepatitis A, B and C. Although the hepatitis has been cleared, I still have to deal with the corresponding consequences and the chronic HIV infection on a daily basis.
During my life, I engaged in a lot of sporting activities. In the 1970s, for example, I was invited by the Italian Hemophilia Society to come skiing. Furthermore, I engaged in competitive swimming and springboard diving, practiced body building, obtained several diving certifications, engaged in boxing for a while, and, until recently, in motorcycle racing, while also being an instructor. At the moment cycling, swimming and a little fitness seem to be the most suitable activities. From my 13th year on, I regularly ride my racing bike, and, the last couple of years also my mountain bike. Not always intensely, but the last two years I’ve reached about 5000 km per season.
Why do I participate in this bike tour to Stavanger? First and foremost, I think it’s important that hemophilia and other rare blood clotting disorders get the attention that’s needed to keep good care and medication secure. Even in the Netherlands this isn’t always a matter of course, let alone in countries in another stage of development. Five hours of air travel will take you to countries where hemophilia care is in a harrowing state, a state that will remind us to the situation of 60 years ago. Furthermore, I would like to awaken people to the fact that my generation can still intensely engage in exercise and sports, and receive the benefits of that.
If I can contribute to the aforementioned, and get at least three of my contemporaries enthusiastic about engaging in sports regularly, my mission will be a success!