Marathon trip boosts charity
FRIENDS Andrew Pilbro and Mike Pullen got on their bikes – from Lands End to John O'Groats – to raise £2,500 for charity.The intrepid pair even beat their target time of 11 days by completing the epic 966-mile journey with hours to spare.
FRIENDS Andrew Pilbro and Mike Pullen got on their bikes – from Lands End to John O'Groats – to raise £2,500 for charity.
The intrepid pair even beat their target time of 11 days by completing the epic 966-mile journey with hours to spare.
Andrew, 44, was originally all set to go it alone and decided it would be a good idea to have a health check before confirming his plans.
Fellow keep-fit enthusiast Mike, 40 and who just happens to be his GP, was immediately interested and after giving Andrew the all-clear he asked: "Do you mind if I join you?"
They trained for six weeks before embarking on the ride and it was plain sailing until they crossed the border into Scotland.
"It was hell on wheels up there," said Andrew, who lives in Brantham and works for Suffolk County Council's trading standards department.
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"I've done marathons, triathlons and all sorts of weird and wonderful races, but I couldn't believe how cold it was up there. Put it this way – we needed our thermals.
"We had torrential rain, even sleet, but it wasn't just the weather that caused problems, we also had to cope with the midges that seemed glad to see us!"
But at least asking the locals in the north of Scotland trimmed close on 50 miles off their journey as they were redirected via quicker, more scenic routes.
"We had set ourselves a target of 11 days and we were virtually spot-on," added Andrew, "although we actually had about four hours to spare at the end."
The pair camped all the way and back-up was provided by John Payne, who travelled in the support vehicle.
Andrew added: "I am not saying we were quick but on two days we beat the support vehicle to the agreed rendezvous point, a campsite.
"One night we arrived only to find the campsite closed, but a farmer came to the rescue. He offered the use of his field, complete with standpipe and cold shower, which had previously been used for washing animals."
There were plenty of other tales to tell after 11 days on the road, like the time the pair came to a standstill and were unsure which way to go.
Andrew recalled: "Mike was in charge of the maps etc. but I was in charge of the actual route design.
"I asked to look at the map and he announced that he had lent it to another rider we had met and he was ahead of us.
"When I asked what he thought about which route to take he pointed and said 'That way' before adding 'Trust me, I'm a doctor'.
"On another occasion we came to a road closure and diversion which involved a round trip of eight additional miles.
"Wanting to keep the mileage down we decided to chance it and try to get through the road closure.
"The workmen were really good and let us ride through – along wet sticky tar. This actually caused a two-hour delay while we picked off the tar, which was ingrained into our wheels.
"Later that night we had to clean the bikes using baby wipes!"
The cash raised by Andrew and Mike will be donated to the St Elizabeth Hospice and Cancer Research.
And there will be more cash to distribute next year when they intend to tackle the ultimate weekend challenge, scaling the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland in the space of just 36 hours.