A Stannington resident is taking on a gruelling cycling challenge to raise money for a charity that is supporting his daughter.
Simon Hughes is among the participants in this year’s Ride 24 activity, organised by Action Challenge, from Newcastle to London on August 22 and 23.
They are aiming to get from the North East city to Smithfield Market in the capital of England on a bike in less than 24 hours. The start time is between 11am and noon.
Although he has run marathons and ultra-marathons in his younger days, Mr Hughes says this will be his toughest endurance challenge as he is now aged 62. The total distance is 305 miles.
He is collecting funds for and raising awareness of Ehlers-Danlos Support UK, which helps people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).
It is a genetic disorder in which the structure of connective tissue is abnormal due to a gene mutation. This results in abnormally fragile and hyper-extensible tissues throughout the body, which can lead to a range of multi-systemic symptoms such as joint pain, easy bruising and brain fog.
Mr Hughes’ wife Dyanne suggested that he could do the ride after reading about it on the charity’s website.
Their daughter Kelly was diagnosed with EDS three years ago. She had some of the milder symptoms as a child, but then it got progressively worse and she had to give up activities she loved to do such as ballet and tennis.
The 21-year-old, who went to King Edward VI School in Morpeth, is studying for a degree in finance at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent.
Mr Hughes said: “I was happy for Dyanne to sign me up to the ride, but when I read the details I was surprised to find out that it was a one-day activity. I had assumed it would be over two days, which still would have been tough.
“I did take part in a 100-mile race that took 21 hours for me to complete, however that was about 20 years ago so I think this will be my hardest ever endurance challenge.
“In saying that, I have now got over the trepidation stage as I have done a good block of training and I’m really looking forward to the ride.
“Cycling the 305-mile distance under the 24-hour cut off would be a great achievement.
“I have raised more than £1,800 so far, which is in excess of my £1,500 target, and hopefully I will receive many more donations. I’m grateful to all those who have already given some money to the charity.
“As well as bringing in funds, I’m doing the ride to raise awareness because many people have some form of EDS, but some are not diagnosed as they only have a few of the symptoms.”
He has had to fit his training schedule around his full-time job – he works for Mann and Hummel Vokes Air, which provides air filtration solutions.
Mr Hughes got into cycling 10 years ago and he joined the Northumberland-based EMC club. Members have helped him with his training rides in different parts of the county.
The Ride 24 route is broken down into seven stages – all between 40 and 50 miles – with rest stops at the end of each leg to take on food and drink.
For more details about EDS and to make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/simon-hughes27