Super-fit seniors ride End-to-End to help Sunflower bloom

Clive cycling through Oxford

Super-fit seniors ride End-to-End to help Sunflower bloom

New Cycling UK members Mark Mathews and Clive Lindley-Jones have always practised what they preach as keen advocates of a natural, healthy lifestyle. Next month, however, their motto will not so much be ‘walk the talk’ as ‘ride the rhetoric’ as they take on 1,000 miles from Land's End to John o' Groats.

Mark and Clive, both in their 70th year, are Senior Practitioners with The Sunflower Trust, a children’s health charity based in Guildford, Surrey – a short ride from Cycling UK’s National Head Office.

They joined Cycling UK a few weeks ago, taking advantage of our great membership benefits as they prepare to tackle the iconic End-to-End ride in June. Mark and Clive will spend a fortnight pedalling through 23 counties on their 1,000-mile trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and are currently putting in hours of hard graft on two wheels and in the gym. 

They will be setting off from the tip of Cornwall on 19 June, Clive riding his Dawes Galaxy Plus, Mark on a Giant Compact.

Mark is Founder and President of The Sunflower Trust. Being dyslexic himself, he has always had a special interest in helping children with learning and behavioural difficulties and the Sunflower Programme he pioneered has assisted hundreds of youngsters over the years.

Mark, who lives in Guildford and will be 70 next April, said: “Sunflower has helped hundreds of children be the best that they can be – many with diagnosed health, behavioural or learning difficulties, others who are underachieving at school and some, who for no obvious reason, need a little extra help to achieve their potential.

“Knowing that we are raising funds for the Trust’s work will be more than enough motivation to get through those occasional tough moments which are bound to occur during the ride.” 

I am looking forward to having a new experience of the whole country joined up and traversed in that intimate way that only cycling gives.

Clive Lindley-Jones

Clive, who lives in Oxford and celebrates his 70th birthday this October, said: “Mark and I once went to South Africa to do the Argus cycle race in Cape Town, also to raise money for the Sunflower Trust, but really I am a novice to long-distance cycle riding.

“I have been trying to get my body up to speed this year with many rides through the Oxfordshire countryside, and Mark has been doing the same through the Surrey Hills. Visiting many quiet villages at first light and gearing up for a rewarding breakfast in some welcoming small town after a few hours has had its own rewards.

“Having walked across England on the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast walk a few years ago, I am looking forward to having a new experience of the whole country joined up and traversed in that intimate way that only cycling gives," Clive said.

“There is something rather special and exciting about being able to ride in a continuous straight line crossing the length of the country day after day, rather than the normal loops out and back that most cycle trips require.

“From the tiny lanes of Cornwall to the wide skies and deserted mountain landscape of Northern Scotland, there is such a diverse topography and geology in this small island of ours. It should be a great privilege to string it all together and experience it as a whole.”

Knowing that we are raising funds for the Trust’s work will be more than enough motivation to get through those occasional tough moments which are bound to occur during the ride.

Mark Mathews

The opening stages of the ride through the south-west of England will also rekindle some happy memories for Clive.

He added: “While I understand the early days are some of the hardest, it will be fun to travel through some of that familiar country. I last cycled across Dartmoor in the 1950s with my family on a tiny Rudge World Beater single-gear boys’ bike. At that time the rain and wind were a real challenge, but the ride down off the moor to the sea was wonderful.

“I managed a good 65-mile training ride on Saturday after my Zen meditation week, and it was a meditation of its own. Mark and I are good friends and will enjoy the camaraderie of riding the End-to-End. We’re looking forward to it immensely and are prepared for all the highs and lows ahead, both psychologically and in terms of the hills!”

If you're thinking of cycling from Land's End to John o'Groats (LEJOG), the Cycling UK End-to-End pack has all the information you need.

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