Two grandads and an alien are on the write road from Hungary!

Paul Greenhalgh, Mike Newton and John Harrison...also known as two grandads and an alien

Two grandads and an alien are on the write road from Hungary!

They cycled more than 1,450 miles, took in the sights and sounds of seven countries, slogged up and down the Alps, and had to cope with temperatures which soared to 38°C – a sizzling 100°F in ‘old money’. As bike rides go, it wasn’t a bad effort for two grandads and an alien!

Mike Newton, Paul Greenhalgh and John Harrison, all aged over 60, pedalled from Budapest in Hungary through Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands before alighting on English soil and returning home to North Yorkshire.  

And now Cycling UK member Mike has committed the memories, maps and images of their unforgettable trip to print, in his new book ‘Two Grandads & an Alien Cycle from Hungary to Home’.

The tome’s intriguing title was only to be expected, bearing in mind that Mike’s previous publications include the wittily alliterative ‘Four Fifty-Plus Fools Flit Fru France’.

The two grandads in question are Mike himself and Paul, who both live in Great Ayton. The alien is John, and not because he lives elsewhere – namely Marton in Middlesbrough.

Mike explained: “We were convinced he must be some kind of alien very early in the journey. It was searingly hot and Paul and I were glugging back litres of water and needing to stop to get some shelter from the sun every five miles or so – but John hardly seemed to need a drink or even break into much of a sweat. Clearly a man from a different planet!”

Now 65, Mike only became keen on cycling when he passed the age of 40. In 2004, aged 54, he cycled over 900 miles across France with Paul, John and a friend called Ray Turner.

He said: “I have cycled in the Alps, Majorca and Menorca and was keen on another big tour, which I discussed with Paul. We initially had the idea of cycling through the Baltic States and north through Finland, then decided on the trip from Budapest to the UK.”

We were convinced John must be some kind of alien. It was searingly hot and Paul and I were glugging back litres of water – but John hardly seemed to need a drink or even break into much of a sweat. Clearly a man from a different planet!”

Mike Newton, Cycling UK member and author

In the same year as the France cycling trip, 2004, Mike ran his first Great North Run and went on to complete the event eight consecutive times.

Paul is another serial Great North Run participant, having tackled the event 14 years in a row up until 1999 – with a London Marathon thrown in for good measure in 1997.  

It was 63-year-old Paul who created the scenic route followed by the cyclists from Budapest to England, which took them along the shores of three of Europe’s most famous lakes – Balaton in Hungary, Austria’s Worthersee, and Constance (known as Bodensee in Germany).

Like Mike and Paul, 61-year-old John is as nifty on his feet as he is on a pair of pedals. John has climbed all 284 Munros – the mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet high – and is also a keen skier.

‘Two Grandads & an Alien Cycle from Hungary to Home’ gives a daily breakdown of the intrepid trio’s trip and is based on the blog Mike wrote throughout the journey.

Mike added: “It was hard work at times but a fantastic journey with many stunning sights and funny moments. Hopefully the book reflects that. I’d like to think it’s perfect for a cyclist who likes a challenge – an amusing, stimulating and informative tale of three over-60 year old men cycling across Europe.

“It includes the experiences we shared on the ride, descriptions of the places we visited and the team comradeship we enjoyed. Several times we were told that we gave hope to young people for their later life because of what we were doing. The fact we were inspiring others to cycle was uplifting for us too.”

The book is available on Amazon Kindle for £2.73.

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