PEDAL power successfully conquered big climbs and difficult weather as a Morpeth man completed his epic cross-country challenge.
Ken Ions cycled from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in the Scottish Highlands – the distance between the places is the longest between two points on the British mainland – over nine days to raise money for two charities.
The 41-year-old is a keen cyclist and often rides to and from work in Newcastle, but this was the first time he attempted anything on this scale.
He was able to stick to his planned route, save for a few detours to avoid traffic, and was greeted by family members – including wife Ali and twin children Molly and Noah – at the finish in north-east Scotland.
“It was a really enjoyable experience as every day had a different landscape and a different feel,” he said.
“The ride required plenty of hard work and a few unexpected things happened, but I came through them and I got the rewards out of it. Having a clear plan definitely helped.
“It was also about the people I met along the way and the amount of goodwill I received was staggering.
“I tell my kids that you need to look after your body because it’s the best kit you will ever have and the challenge opened my eyes to dealing with such a large amount of strain on a daily basis.”
On day one from Land’s End to Sourton Cross, there were many hills to navigate and Mr Ions suffered a problem with his gear shifter, but thankfully for him when he passed through a town there was a Halfords open so he could get it fixed.
He had two friends riding with him on day two and brother-in-law Paul Hughes and a colleague from Mr Hughes’ ParentMail business accompanied him on day four.
The following day took the High Stanners resident through the Lake District, including a half-hour climb up Shap Fell. He said he was ‘buzzing’ going downhill after the climb.
The rest of the journey was in Scotland and the toughest day was day seven when the weather was freezing cold, it was raining hard and winds of about 45mph were blowing into Mr Ions’ face.
He said: “My hands started to get pins and needles and I was soaked through because I didn’t have the kit to deal with such wintry weather.
“I felt that getting angry was the only way to deal with the situation and it actually worked.
“Thankfully, the rain stopped and I had a nice wind behind me on the final two days. Once I had done the steep climbs on the final morning, I realised that I was going to finish the challenge.”
He has so far raised more than £3,700 for Childline and £800 for St Oswald’s Hospice.
Molly and Noah are in Year 3 at St Robert’s First School in Oldgate and their teachers Karen Wigham and Ann Tunmore ran a display project with pupils relating to the ride, which included elements of Geography and Maths.