Day 7 2017 STdT: A ‘non-tree person’ perspective on the Tour

With cooler temperatures and a nice breeze. The riders for the 25th-anniversary STIHL Tour des Trees cycled into River Farm at The American Horticultural Society. To my disappointment, I didn’t get to ride today, but I did get to enjoy a beautiful historic place for the closing ceremonies of my very first STIHL Tour des Trees.

Unlike many of the riders who work in tree-related fields, I’m what you call a non-tree person, more specifically I don’t work with trees but I do love them. It was a fellow rider – Mike Connick who works in arboriculture but also serves on a cycling committee with me — who peaked my interest in the tour.

Tina Matthews and fellow rider, Mike Connick who inspired her to come along for the STIHL Tour des Trees.

So, it was the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) cycling committee – or a car club — that brought me to it. I’ve always found it beautifully ironic that the cycling arm of an auto club brought me to trees.

Another huge reason I am eager to learn more about trees revolves around my field of work. I’m a pathologist with a specialization in lung pathology. So, what I do and the people I treat can benefit from trees. Some people refer to trees as the lungs of the planet, in fact, a lot of lung disease is caused by pollution. As we know, trees are critical for keeping our air clean. When it comes down to it, my work goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the Tour. And now that I’m here and learning more from all of these tree professionals, it gives me new perspective and knowledge I can take back and share in my everyday life.

Today, Professor Prickelthorn did his presentation for children, but there were, even more, adults hanging on to his every word. I will never forget his primary message – plant the right tree in the right place.

And now more than ever, every time I take a deep breathe I will think of trees and the effort of TREE Fund to provide funds for tree research and education.

What started as a passion for cycling — which I’ve been doing all my life — has now evolved into a new- found passion for trees. Being with this group is inspiring, the camaraderie incomparable and the experience addicting. I can’t wait for my next Tour.

Dr. Tina Matthews, consultant cellular pathologist at Epsom and St. Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

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