Old men on a mad mission - but all in a good cause!

David Scott, Clive Lindley-Jones, Lee Nagel and Mark Mathews (left to right) at John O'Groats
If you think cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats is a challenge, try doing it in the hottest weather the UK has seen for 40 years at the age of 70! New Cycling UK members Mark Mathews and Clive Lindley-Jones, both septuagenarians, have just done exactly that.

Mark and Clive found the ride relentless and on many occasions were nearly overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge. However, thanks to the camaraderie that cycling provides and the support from local bikes shops en route they didn't flag. Coupled with a motto of ‘indifference to suffering’, it was the joys and companionship that they experienced which will provide the lasting memories.

Local bike shops encountered along the way on almost a daily basis, whether for repairs or tips were essential for the success of their journey. Clive said: “All our bike shop encounters have been helpful and in the general understanding of an inner tribe of bikers who help their own. In Plymouth we learnt of a wonderful run up an old disused rail track which, when we eventually found it after a tough run with heavy traffic out of the city, was a jewel in the crown of the journey.”

They completed the 1,000 miles in 14 days, cycling for an average of 12 hours a day.

Despite months of preparation and training, they admit they found the Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge a lot harder than they were expecting.

I think the relentless heat and hills of Cornwall were a shock. We had to drink at least eight litres of water a day, it was such a sweat.

Clive Lindley-Jones

Clive said: “I think the relentless heat and hills of Cornwall were a shock. We had to drink at least eight litres of water a day, it was such a sweat. It was tough but do-able for old men on a mad mission and, despite the rigours of the terrain, morale remained high.”

By the time they reached the border of Scotland, the conditions had changed dramatically, with sun cream swapped for waterproofs and the heatwave replaced by freezing temperatures as they climbed up to over 1,400 feet in some places.

As anyone who has cycle toured during the vagaries of a British summer will know, the weather is rarely consistent, and requires clothing for all situations. However with the heatwave Clive and Mark experienced, they had to call family en route to take the cold weather kit away as they struggled with the weight through the hills and heat. Of course, with the weather changing and the harsh weather conditions of Cumbria kicking in, they then had to call and get their supplies returned – especially their gloves!

Mark and Clive took part in the ride to promote their own ethos for good health and wellbeing and to raise funds and awareness for Guildford-based children’s charity The Sunflower Trust.