When Carol Ibbs was widowed to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) three years ago - her world was turned upside down.

“Steve was 45 and he just didn’t wake up one day,” she said. “So there I was aged 41, three weeks before Christmas with two children and people were suddenly calling me a widow. I honestly couldn’t get my head around it.”

Carol didn’t know anyone else who had been widowed at such a young age until she came across the charity WAY Widowed and Young, which supports young people across the UK who’ve been widowed before their 51st birthday.

“When I found WAY, they helped me so much, with support and friendship,” she said.

“Just knowing there were others who were going through what I was going through made it more bearable. With the best will in the world, people who haven’t been through it just can’t understand it so I have found their peer to peer support invaluable.”

When Carol spotted the opportunity to take part in the RideLondon cycle challenge at the end of May, she realised she wanted to do something to give back to the charity that has been her lifeline over the past three years.

Carol, now 45, had never cycled more than 10km before let alone enter a 100km cycle event!

“I’m a total novice but I have borrowed a decent bike and am learning new things every week about how to get through it unscathed, including the importance of padded shorts!” she said. “The reason I chose this event was to prove to myself that I can. After Steve died, I was very anxious about almost everything and this is one of the ways I am trying to beat my fears and show myself and my kids that I am strong and capable.”

Carol is taking on the challenge with a support team of four friends and is throwing herself into a gruelling training regime.

“The team consists of two of Steve’s brothers (Stuart and Grant) and two friends (Nik and Dave). We are all training hard in our own way, but myself and Nik have been trying to get out together once a week for a long ride. We are adding 10 miles to each week and last week did 53 miles.

"We are hoping to get up to 75 before the event so that we have the confidence that we will finish. Training with Nik has really helped my confidence as we push each other in a good way and support each other.

“We are based in Malvern so we are really getting used to lots of hills on our training rides,” she added. “I’m hoping the event will be flatter than round here!”

“I have to admit the training has been harder than I expected,” she said. “Literally every time I schedule in a ride it pours with rain, so I am hoping for dry weather on the day because cycling in the rain is no fun.”

But it’s the memory of Steve that keeps her motivated when the going gets tough.

“I think Steve would think I was mad, but I also hope he would be proud of me for doing something so out of my comfort zone and for getting his brothers to do it as well!” she said.

“I am pleased that we are raising funds for such a great charity too.”

With less than two weeks to go, Carol and her friends have raised nearly £2,000 for WAY: