When you meet Ottilie Quince it is very hard to believe that this vibrant, confident woman bursting with life and energy could ever have been anything else. But if it weren’t for the life saving kidney (called Poppet) donated to her by her mum in 2007, and the subsequent treatment she received she would not be here brightening my day with her radiant smile as we drink coffee in the cycling hotspot of Puerto Pollensa.
We are sitting at Vitho Cafe overlooking the sea, just around the corner from the famous restaurant Tolos, home to Sir Bradley Wiggin’s time trial world champion bike amongst other beautiful cycling memorabilia, and just around the other corner from Ottilie’s own business, OQ Service Course.
“I was always sporty,” Ottilie tells me, “I have a degree in Sport and Exercise Science, and I taught Sports Performance and Sports Sciences at Sixth Form. I went on to do the notorious Football Association’s (FA) Diploma in the Treatment and Management of Injuries at the FA’s Sports Science Headquarters in Lilleshall in Shropshire. After that I worked as a full time physiotherapist for Luton Town Football Club 2007 - 2010 working with the pro squad and the youth teams.”
How did she get into cycling? “I played football when I was younger but I was told I couldn’t play anymore after my transplant. I had been watching the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was inspired by the likes of Laura Kenny and Joanna Rowsell, so I wanted a bike too, a super fast road bicycle which my Dad bought for me. And it went from there really.” It certainly did go from there as she is now the holder of 35 gold medals in World, European and British championships at the World Transplant Games in Road Racing and Time Trials.
Having visited the island before on team training camps and fallen in love with it, Ottilie made Mallorca her home in 2015, and opened her unique shop “OQ Service Course” in Puerto Pollensa in 2017. “The idea was to bring all of the cycling services together in one place to help give riders the best experience here in cycling paradise,” she smiles at me.
“I saw an opportunity to open somewhere that truly looked after cyclists/athletes here in what I think is the best location to base yourself; at the edge of the Tramuntana mountains, right by the beautiful ride over to the lighthouse at Formentor and on the coast with beautiful beaches and plenty of stunning countryside lanes that allow you to explore the rest of the island.”
Her shop is filled with memorabilia from her happy clients, and pieces of furniture that she has collected, such as Wiggo’s armchairs which have pride of place. Ottilie’s dreams for her business have been realised with a very busy cycling season this Spring, and another promising one coming this Autumn.
NOT QUITE HAPPY EVER AFTER
You’d think it would be “Happy ever after” then, but no, the nature of the anti-rejection medication that Ottilie has to take for her kidney has meant that she has had two cancerous tumours on the organ since her transplant. The most recent one was discovered buried deep inside her kidney in 2020, although it was deemed too difficult to operate on by some doctors, it was successfully removed by surgeon Mr Tim O’Brien, along with Mr Jonathon Olsburgh in November 2002.
OTTILIE’S GRAND TOUR
Ottilie is due a visit back to the UK very soon for a check up, but she is not coming back on an Easyjet flight, she’s going to cycle back this time. “When I moved to Mallorca in 2015, I used to go back to the UK to Luton to visit my hospital in Stevenage for my 2-3 monthly check ups, to check my kidney wasn’t rejecting. I used to joke that one day I would ride home, rather than fly. So this time that’s what I am going to do. And I want to ride with as many people along the way as possible; Forrest Gump style.
I am going to ride my very own “Grand Tour” in aid of two amazing charities; UCARE (Urology Cancer Research and Education) and The Urology Foundation to say thank you to the doctors and surgeons who have saved me.”
“I will do 21 days of riding, covering more than 2,500 kilometres through seven countries. With a day off every 7th/8th day, just like the pros do at Le Tour de France, La Vuelta et al. My main aim is to inspire everyone to get out there and exercise, get on your bike! We can all lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the amazing landscape here in Mallorca. If I can do it, then so can you. My sponsors have been amazing, without them I would not be able to do it, so thank you to London Square, GCN, Sram, Canyon, KCO, Kask, Zip and Nite.
"Why now?" I turned 40 years old in April. Technically I am 112 years old if you add all body parts together! (Poppet turned 72 in March). So I thought I should do something special to mark the occasion. I´m not one for parties, but I did want to do something. Something challenging and out of my comfort zone. And this year also marks the 15th year since receiving my Mum´s kidney in August. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than this!”
You can find out more about the ride, how to sponsor Ottilie, and how to join her along the way by visiting her website oqservicecourse.com/oq-vuelta-a-casa-2022Ottilie is almost halfway to her goal of raising £20,000 and any donation you can make will go to a very good cause.
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