Sky’s the limit as pilot Vince swaps wings for wheels

British Airways pilot and Cycling UK member Vince Bowshall will touch down in Sicily in a fortnight's time

Sky’s the limit as pilot Vince swaps wings for wheels

Airline pilot Vince Bowshall could fly to Sicily in three hours – but he’s decided to spend two weeks cycling there instead.

Vince sets off from Brighton for Taormina today (Thursday 12 May), hoping it will be third time lucky after being thwarted by injury in his previous attempts to tackle the 1,500-mile ride.

Cycling UK member Vince, who used to do the odd time trial about 30 years ago, has ridden to Barcelona, Brussels and Edinburgh in the last decade but wanted something slightly more epic for 2014 as his 50th birthday approached.

The British Airways pilot said: “I decided on the route to Sicily – a ride of nearly 1,500 miles from one great cycling country and through two others seemed perfect for a two-week challenge.

“Unfortunately, the day before the 2014 Tour De France started I crashed in Brighton and cracked a couple of ribs, which meant no cycling. My family weren’t very pleased either as we were going on holiday two weeks after I came off the bike.

“So I pencilled in the ride for September 2015…and guess what. Almost a year to the day after I cracked my ribs, I crashed in the wet and had an open dislocation of my thumb.

“That meant no riding for two months. Worse still, we were going on holiday again just three days afterwards so my family were even more upset this time.”

I was never a natural athlete and definitely not built for climbing, so I will be glad to get the Alps out of the way. Week two should be easier after a rest day in Bologna where I can rest and refuel – with beer and pizza!”

Cycling UK member Vince Bowshall

Having rescheduled the ride – yet again – for this month, Vince was hoping to find someone to join him, without success.

He added: “I decided it had to be done. My wife Jo isn’t happy I’m going on my own but she understands I can’t put it off any more as I wanted to do it while I am 50 – and I’m 51 in June.

“We’re going on holiday in the middle of July but, remembering what has happened over the last two years, I have been banned from riding the month before we go. Fair enough, I suppose!”

Vince, who lives in Rottingdean, just outside Brighton, added: “It is a physical challenge rather than a sightseeing tour as I will be covering around 100 miles a day, although I’m obviously hoping to appreciate some of the stunning scenery as it passes by.

“I was never a natural athlete and definitely not built for climbing, so I will be glad to get the Alps out of the way. Week two should be easier after a rest day in Bologna where I can rest and refuel – with beer and pizza!”

Vince is raising money for the Huntington’s Disease Association. He said: “A good friend of mine has a family history of Huntington’s, which is hereditary and caused by a faulty gene. It is not yet understood how the gene leads to damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain, but it gets progressively worse and affects movement, cognition and behaviour. At present there is no cure.”

Vince’s wife Jo and 17-year-old daughter Amy will be meeting him in Sicily…with a bike box, some clean clothes, and probably a little more beer and pizza!

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