A cycling duo took on an extreme Tour de France-style cycling challenge to help people fight cancer.
David Taylor and Simon Allcock cycled over 400km (255 miles) from Leicester to Carlisle in two days, staying overnight in Liverpool, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
It is the longest ride they have ever embarked on, usually cycling around 100km (60 miles) a week compared to the vast distance covered in two days.
They both work for housing association Riverside, and the ride began at the organisation’s Leicester hub. They were given a heroes’ welcome as they arrived in Riverside head office in south Liverpool before continuing on to their final destination for the day, the housing association’s district office in the north of the city at 8.30pm. They completed the 125-mile stretch in 13 hours.
“On the first day we started off really quick and then after about 100 miles started slowing down. We began the journey doing the scenic route along the canal paths but quickly realised that it would take forever to get to Liverpool. We stopped off at the National Memorial Arboretum for a coffee and went on the A roads which was terrifying at times, especially when the trucks came thundering past,” recalls David, a dad-of-two who is originally from Lytham St Annes but now lives in Wirral.
He added: “My gear cable broke after I crossed the Runcorn Bridge but a visit to the bike shop fixed the problem for the next day’s ride. It was night time when we reached Riverside head office in Liverpool, and it was such a lovely surprise to be greeted by our loyal of group fans who cheered us on – it gave us a huge lift and spurred us on for the next day’s ride.”
Rainy spells didn’t dampen their spirits the next day riding to Riverside’s Carlisle office. But sadly 68 miles in to the challenge at Kendal, David suffered a knee injury and couldn’t go any further. Simon continued alone while David hopped on a train and greeted him at the finishing line.
David added: “The second day started off well, it rained at times. But my knee got rapidly worse to the point where I was unable to pedal anymore. I was really gutted to be so close to the finish but unable to carry on. I also felt bad because Simon had to complete the rest of the journey alone.”
Simon was born and brought up in Blackpool and now lives in Cambridge. He completed day two in 12 hours, and added: “David’s knee got rapidly worse so he had to get the train before he did some serious damage. I had about 55 miles left and there was a massive hill I had to conquer on the A6 near Shap. It was real slog and I thought I’d never reach the top, but I just got in to a rhythm and kept my head down. Once I reached the top it felt great. It was freezing cold but a huge relief as I was able to freewheel down for miles, admiring the scenery along the way.
“The final stretch was hard but I had to reach the finishing line. I had mixed emotions when I completed the challenge – I felt bad for David but pleased I’d done it. It was a massive relief that I didn’t have to pedal anymore. The challenge was really hard but it was totally awesome. I was aching the next day and couldn’t walk.
“But it was all worth it! And the reception we got from locals in Carlisle was amazing, everyone was so friendly. I stayed over and I was really heartened by the amount of people who took the time to ask what we had done and shake my hand. It’s such a friendly place.”
Their charity efforts was all worth it, as they raised £1,200 which has boosted the massive £88,000 fundraised by staff at Riverside for Cancer Research UK.
Simon, a dad-of-three, continued: “This is the longest ride I’ve ever cycled – riding more than 125 miles each day so it was quite a challenge! Thankfully doing the ride with David kept me going. It would have been so much harder doing it by myself, it would have been really difficult to keep motivated.
“We’re really pleased with the amount raised and a big thank you for everyone’s support.”
David added: “This is the longest ride I’ve ever done – cycling more than 125 miles each day was quite a challenge! Last year I did the London to Paris bike ride, which is the same distance but over four days.
“I really pleased to have taken on the challenge with Simon, as it makes such a difference having a cycling partner with you and we had a great laugh despite the aches.”
Simon and David’s fundraising page is www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-taylor153