Arthritis Eating his Bones Won’t Stop Tom Cycling from London to Monaco!

August 28, 2018
Arthritis Eating his Bones Won’t Stop Tom Cycling from London to Monaco!

Dear Explorer,

Many of us feel that having an illness stops you from achieving your dreams. If you need inspiration look to the courage and dedication of Tom Hill’s story.

Despite having a disease eating away at his bones, muscles and ligaments, this determined Australian still plans to cycle a 7-day event in September through 8 countries from London to Monaco to raise money for the Blue Marine Foundation, a cause very close to his heart.

Want to track the riders LIVE during the race?

During the event, click this link to watch the rider LIVE here>


Cyclists in the inaugural London to Monaco charity ride in 2016.

Beating All Odds

Exceptionally active, prior to 2016 Tom would cycle on average 350km a week. Then, suddenly during the inaugural London-to-Monaco ride in 2016, an unexpected storm dropped the temperature causing Tom’s knee to swell taking him out of the race and straight to Monaco to receive treatment. After being bedridden for 8 months and a slew of tests, Tom discovered that he has a rare and aggressive form of arthritis eating away at his bones, muscles, and ligaments.

ub-cool: It’s great to interview you again. So much has happened since we last chatted in 2016. How did you feel when you were given this diagnosis?

Tom Hill: I was told I would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life. It took close to a year of chemo-like treatment – a blocker to stop it attacking my body – for me to get back the strength I needed to get back on the bike again.


ub-cool: Wow – you beat all odds and are now back on a cycle and working as Director of Rivergate Marina & Shipyard. What do you think helped you achieve such an incredible recovery?

Tom Hill: My recovery focused on nutrition, a renewed focus on organic, unprocessed food. Fortunately, my family business, which stretches back three generations on my mom’s side, Tropical Fruit World in the fertile, volcanic soils of northern New South Wales, provided more than 500 varieties of fruit that more than replenished my appetite for training again.

The protein I needed for strength I found in jackfruit, the carbs for energy in bananas and custard apples, and Vitamin C in purple dragon fruit and finger lime. I carry them with me everywhere and I will make sure I have them for London to Monaco, to share with other riders as well – a taste of the tropics all the way from Australia!

ub-cool: The London-to-Monaco charity ride in September is fast approaching! Are your doctors concerned about you cycling for 7 days? Have they suggested any techniques to follow while cycling for 7 days? 

Tom Hill: Yes, somewhat; however, they have accepted my decision. They gave me physiotherapy exercises and mental health exercises that I need to undertake regularly.

ub-cool: What are your own biggest concerns about taking on this upcoming cycling trip while fighting this disease – are you afraid or are you confident?

Tom Hill: I am confident.  This is my nature.

ub-cool: Is your family supportive or would they prefer you stay home?

Tom Hill: Can I say both?  They are very supportive, but I think they would prefer me to stay at home.

Tom Hill Director Rivergate Marina and Shipyard

Tom at home

The London-to-Monaco 2018 Challenge: Sept 19th-25th

Organized by Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), the past two annual charity rides saw 150 riders from 12 countries help raise over £570,000 for BLUE’s ocean conservation work around the world. The 2018 race will begin in London and end at the Palace in Monaco on the eve of the Monaco Yacht Show. This year’s funds will help support BLUE’s projects on Ascension Island and St Helena in the Atlantic.

ub-cool: This year, are you riding for the same reason as you did in 2016 when your attempt was sadly derailed?

Tom Hill: Yes, I am riding for the same reason this time. My family business, Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, continues to have a focus on the environment and sustainability, especially our oceans.

ub-cool: How much you hope to raise for the BlueMarine Foundation?

Tom Hill: I would hope to raise €5,000.

ub-cool: Which countries will you be cycling through?

Tom Hill: I will be cycling through 8 countries: UK, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Monaco.

ub-cool: Where do you sleep along the way? Do you have to carry all of your food or are there pre-set pit stops en route?

Tom Hill: Motels are provided throughout the cycling challenge. All nutrient and hydration will be pre-set along the way. I will supplement with a few things like dried fruit from my family farm to keep my body at the best performance levels.

ub-cool: How many hours and km/miles a day will you travel on average?

Tom Hill: Approximately 150 km a day.

ub-cool: Does everyone have to finish within the 7 days and will there be support vehicles?

Tom Hill: Yes, they do and yes there will be multiple vehicles escorting all riders.

Tom Hill in 2016 with Andrew Winch, Winch Design

Tom Hill in 2016 with Andrew Winch, Winch Design


ub-cool: How are you training ahead of this 7-day challenge? What does your training schedule look like?

Tom Hill: I train around 15 to 20 hours per week, with a mixture of strength, flexibility and obviously a lot of bike riding.  Averaging about 350kms per week in the saddle.

ub-cool: During these endurance practice rides, how have you been feeling?

Tom Hill: Feeling really good actually. The disease has made me very sore at times and has affected my immune system, but I’m feeling on top of most of this now.

ub-cool: Are you on a special diet for training? Does chemotherapy affect your training diet?

Tom Hill: I eat healthy all the time with a focus on keeping my vitamins and minerals topped up.  Fresh fruits, nuts and grains, and mostly fish for protein.

Regarding chemo, I cannot ride for a period following my injection but the drug doesn’t otherwise affect my diet or training.

ub-cool: Do you think having done this event once before makes the mental challenge easier to prepare for? Or, do you anticipate the mental challenge to be as difficult as the previous attempts?

Tom Hill: The mental challenge will be huge again. I know what I’m in for but this makes it no easier.

Related: Read more about Tom Hill in ub-cool’s 2016 interview >


ub-cool: We love to know what equipment and brands athletes like to use. Which brand and type of cycle do you plan to ride?

Tom Hill: Trek Madone. This model fits the style of my ride and is high performance. I love this bike.

ub-cool: What type of cycling boot will you use?

Tom Hill: Bontrager – this shoe syncs well with the trek bike.

ub-cool: What type of cycling helmet will you use?

Tom Hill: Giro Synthe – very aero dynamic yet breathes well and awfully cool.

ub-cool: Is there a specific water bottle you prefer?

Tom Hill: My Rivergate Blue Marine Foundation bottles that we had manufactured for the earlier London to Monaco.

Tom Hill

Tom back in 2016 training in Australia before the inaugual London to Monaco charity ride. 

Post-Race Plans

ub-cool: After the London-Monaco Charity Ride, how do you plan to recuperate? What are your plans? 

Tom Hill: A good massage, and a long sleep. Then being out and about with Superyachts brings quick recuperation. I will be there representing Rivergate at the Monaco Yacht Show.

ub-cool: Do you have any advice for our readers to help them overcome challenges and chase their dreams?

Tom Hill: Look at alternate ways to get the same outcome. Or, taking a seemingly impossible situation, know that there will be a way to chase your dreams. So, don’t give up. For me, I found meditation gave me clearer pathways to keep challenging myself.

Tom Hill Cycling

Where in the world is the ub-cool flag
Where in the World is the ub-cool Flag?

Dear Explorer, The world is your oyster!  You’ve heard that one before, eh? Well, it definitely is our motto at ub-cool. We are conquering the world one country at a time with our flag! The world is truly a small place now that we have the ease of air transport. Long gone are the days of sailing weeks across the rough-gut-wrenching seas, watching your suitcases (or, trunks!) slide across the room and almost squash your legs, just to get from one continent to another. Now, you can do that in 12 hours or less. Where in the World is the ub-cool Flag? Come along with us on our journey as the ub-cool team and friends carry our flag across the globe. We will update this page with new additions from the coolest places on Earth! If you want to be part of the journey, email us for a copy of our flag and then submit your photo and we will add it here! Spread the word and check back to see all the new cool places we have been! Turkey September 2018: Balloons in Cappadocia! Exploring the “fairy chimney” rock formations in Turkey,  brought along the ub-cool flag for the stunning sights! Ukraine August 2018: Cycling through the Carpathian Mountains Cycling enthusiasts, Kate Pakhomov and Fimm, carried the ub-cool flag through Ukraine! South Africa July 2018: Fun at Lion & Safari Park Devan Kupferman and Laura Symmonds watching lion cubs playing with the ub-cool flag! Arctic Circle June 2018: The Ultimate North! The ub-cool flag reached the Arctic Circle in our founder Medina Ilyassova’s backpack! Kenya June 2018: Hiking in Kwale County! Zarian Sohrab hiked with the ub-cool flag to find some spectacular views!   Oman May 2018: Waters around Muscat 10 meters deep in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Muscat, Oman, these passionate freedivers pose with the ub-cool flag! From left to right: Yousuf Al Mukaini, Sele Al Mabsali, and Omar Al Ghailani. Scotland May 2018: Dunottar Castle The ub-cool flag made its way to North East Scotland with our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan! Ireland May 2018: Southern Irish Coast Our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, high above the beautiful cliffs of Ballycotton in County Cork. Nepal April 2018: Mount Everest Base Camp After 7 days of hiking, our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, reached Everest Base Camp! Along for the journey was her friend and Jonathan Shubert, ub-cool Explorer and world-record endurance cyclist. Read more about Heather’s journey to Mount Everest Base camp here. Peru April 2018: Machu Picchu The iconic peak of Peru’s famous mountains rise behind ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani. He made the gruelling journey to the peak by the most difficult route… Then he made his way to Vinicuna, the Rainbow Mountain, to handstand in the Andes Mountain range. Georgia April 2018: Caucasus Mountains Enjoying her first visit to the beautiful country of Georgia, Medina Ilyassova returned with memories of paragliding over the stunning scenery, exploring castles, and dining on delicious cuisine. If you’re planning a trip to Georgia, discover awesome Georgia tours here. Hawaii April 2018: Koko Crater After a steep climb ub-cool friend, Anshul Bhatnagar, enjoys the view of a cloudy Honolulu! Kazakhstan  September 2017  ub-cool’s Medina Ilyassova hangs out in the mountains with family and friends. There is nothing better than fresh mountain air! Bulgaria September 2017 ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani, making his way through Bulgaria with the our flag in tow! Tanzania May 2017: Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano – “Mountain of God” Perched at the top of this active volcano, seen as the “Mountain of God” by the Maasai community, our ub-cool founder, Medina Ilyassova, waves our flag with exciting at her accomplishment. The climb was intense to say the least. Imagine climbing at an incline of more than 70 degrees! Not to mention, starting earlier in the dark with headlights to avoid roasting under the African sun! Read about Medina’s climb up Ol Doniyo Lengai Volcano here. Last Updated: 21st May 2018 Watch this space for regular updates! Email us for a copy of our flag and we’ll add your submission to this post!

Best Photos
Best Photos of the Web | April 2018

Dear Explorer, We have searched the web looking for the best photos of the web from the month of April 2018 to inspire you to say ‘WOW‘, get outdoors & lead an active life! 10 Best Photos of the Web Here are our Top 10 pics for this month’s photo competition: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | Instagram: @alexgoldman  The mysteries of Hawaii | Instagram: @kelsealoha The iconic Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco | Instagram: @shangerdanger Turkey is now on our bucket list! Oludeniz Beach | Instagram: @buraktuzer The feeling of freedom! Los Glaciaras, Andes | Instagram: @vagabondhearts Everybody stay calm | @jferrara_photo  Travelling in style in Guam, West Pacific | Instagram: @matecasar Serenity at sunset. Inle Lake, Myanmar | Instagram: @vincelimphoto White Sands Monument in New Mexico | Instagram: @everchanginghorizon And happily ever after! | Instagram @nois7 Did you miss the best photos from March’s photo competition? It’s not too late to check them out. Do you want to submit your photos for May’s photo competition? You can email us or tag us on Facebook or Instagram and remember to use the hashtag #ubcoolphotocomp Liked what you read? Subscribe below and receive more great stories right in your Inbox!

Georgia Tours
4 Best Ways to Explore Georgia on Wheels

Dear Explorer, Counting down the days till your vacation but haven’t settled on a destination? Why don’t you set your eyes on Georgia? (The country in Europe, not the State in the United States!). This country has captured the hearts of many with its warm welcoming nature and generous people. It definitely has the ub-cool team completely in love! Some of our team really enjoy adrenaline-filled adventures like paragliding and white-water rafting, which Georgia has so much of to offer! But, others on the team prefer staying close to the ground – in fact, they prefer their feet firmly fixed to Mother Earth! So, we figured some of you – our lovely readers – may also feel the same and want to check out awesome adventures that keep you as close to the ground as possible. Below are a list of Georgia tours we love that allow you to explore this beautiful country from the comfort of a vehicle. Oh, and don’t forget these Georgia tours are also perfect to enjoy with the family! Related: 4 Best Sky-and-Water Adventures in Georgia 4 Best Georgia Tours on Wheels Recently emerging from decades of Soviet rule, Georgia re-opened its doors to the world in 1991. Since then, there has been a massive building project of hotels and resorts not to mention the increase in the number of flights to this small country. The Caucasus mountains are a sight to be seen – they stand tall with snow-capped peaks against gorgeous rolling-green valleys dotted with small towns. If you’re keen to explore the beautiful countryside and views from the hills all the while keeping your feet close to the ground, we have 4 different options for you from quad bikes to NASCAR-style cars! #1 – Experience the Caucasus Mountains and Castles on this Fun Jeep Tour Jump in for this fantastic jeep tour! The local experts will take you through the Dzama gorge, which is hidden between the valleys of the Borjomi forests and Kartli. Georgians consider this a sacred place as you’ll see by the many old-and-new monasteries in the area. You’ll also visit the gorgeous Bateti lake which sits on a mountain plateau surrounded by forest and a beautiful swamp. Whatever season it is when you visit, make sure you bring your camera because the scenic views will blow your mind! Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention the delicious barbeque picnic and red wine tasting you’ll enjoy! Learn more about this Fun Jeep Tour in Georgia > #2 – Explore Georgia on an Amazing Quad Bike Tour Want to explore the rolling green Georgian hills with your friends? Then hop on your very own quad bike and speed away! Imagine spending 2 hours exploring Mitarbi mountain, Bakuriani traditional villages, and rice fields! Then, after lunch, you’ll get the chance to taste the famous Borjomi mineral water in the national park! For those wondering – yes, the quad bike is really easy to handle making for a truly enjoyable journey. And, if you’re looking for fresh air, then this is the trip for you! Learn more about this quad bike tour in Georgia > #3 – An Exciting NASCAR-Style Car Ride in Georgia Do you love watching car races? Well, when in Gerogia, why don’t you give it a try! Strap on your seat belt and take this first-generation NASCAR car, The Legends, down the track for a spin! This modern vehicle is in the retro style fitted with a Yamaha 1300cc, 145 horsepower engine. What does this mean? Yes – You’ll go from 0 to 100km in 4.2 seconds! Fact: before NASCAR, this vehicle was a popular get-away car for the mafia! Learn more about racing NASCAR-style cars in Georgia > #4 – Adrenaline-Packed Off-Roading Drive Through Georgia Calling adrenaline seekers, this rafting trip in Georgia is perfect for you! Hang on tight for an exhilarating rafting trip down fast-moving waters! If you’re new to rafting, learn to raft from local experts and set off on an adventure of a life time. The waters in Georgia’s rivers are ideal for white-water rafting enthusiasts. Do you live for adrenaline-filled adventures? Then this off-roading tour is for you! Race through Georgia’s rugged terrain in the best off-roading vehicle, Polaris RZR. This high-quality AT vehicle will have you perched atop hills in no time! Learn more about off-roading drives in Georgia > Looking for other adventures? Visit ub-cool for more exciting adventures from all around the world! Working with local experts, the ub-cool team seeks out the best adventures for you to try! Liked what you read? Subscribe below to get more adventure tips right in your inbox!

Xia Boyu
Xia Boyu: Double Amputee Summits Mt Everest

Dear Explorer, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again” – this is definitely the case for 69-year-old mountain climber Xia Boyu who successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, this week. Xia Boyu On Monday, the 14th of May, Xia Boyu achieved his goal on his fifth attempt of conquering the iconic mountain spanning over 4 decades of attempts. You’ll be shocked to learn that it is not his mature age of 69 that sets Xia apart from the other 500 climbers attempting Everest this year… but also that he is a double amputee!  Photo Credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images First Attempt Led to Double Amputation Xia, now 69 years old, first tried to scale the 8,848m peak back in 1975. Only a tantalising 200m from the peak of the world, the climbers were heart broken as they were forced to turn back due to high-altitude storms. They were descending in treacherous conditions when Xia, then aged 26, gave up his sleeping bag to a fellow climber who was struggling, according to Chinese media. The severe weather took its toll on him and he discovered the next morning that he had frostbite in his feet, requiring both to be amputated. “It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest which I’ve dreamed of,” he was quoted by the Peoples Daily. Related: Learn how Shaikha Al Shaiba takes on triathlons with only one arm! Time Line of Xia’s Climbing Dream 1975 – At age 26, Xiya made his initial attempt at Mount Everest but suffered frostbitten feet which required amputation. 1996 – Using prosthetic limbs he climbed mountains around Beijing but tragedy struck when he learnt he had contracted lymphoma and would need both legs amputated beneath the knee. 2014 –  Xia was ready to tackle Everest again, but his attempt was not possible due to ice avalanches. 2015 – Having reached Base Camp, his next attempt was delayed due to the disastrous Nepal earthquake of 2015. 2016 –  He attempted the climb again; but, within 100m of the peak, he had to turn back due to poor weather. 2017 – His planned attempt for 2018 was nearly derailed by the Nepal government, which in December banned double amputees and blind people from climbing Everest. It was claimed that it would make the mountain safer. 2018 – The Nepal Supreme Court finally ruled that the ban was discriminatory and it was dropped in March 2018. 2018, May – SUCCESS! Photo Credit: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters In April 2018, a month before his fifth attempt, Xia told Agence France-Presse that climbing Everest was his dream. “I have to realise it,” he said. “It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate.” On Monday 14th May, Xia finally reached the peak of Mount Everest. “Boyu finally won his 40-year-long battle for Mount Everest,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the managing director at Imagine Treks, who accompanied the Chinese climber, told the Himalayan Times. Other Aamputees who have climbed Everest? Xia is the second double amputee to climb the summit after the New Zealander, Mark Inglis, who reached the peak from the Tibetan side in 2006. Santiago Quintero, who had half of each foot amputated during a climb in south America, also reached the peak in 2013. Congratulations Xia Boyu! Your determination and perseverance are an inspiration to us all! Feature photo: / courtesy of Xia Boyu Do you have a cool story to share with us? Get in touch at