Pensioner pals team up for bike run

TWO pensioners have taken up the UK's most famous two-wheeled challenge.Percy King, 69, and Ralph Mowles, 71, will cycle 1020 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats later this month.

TWO pensioners have taken up the UK's most famous two-wheeled challenge.

Percy King, 69, and Ralph Mowles, 71, will cycle 1020 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats later this month.

They hope to complete their country-long adventure in 21 days in aid of a Kirton chapel and the Macmillan nurses.

Ralph, from Trimley St Mary, and Percy, 71, from Falkenham, first completed the feat for charity two years ago and were going to take up the challenge again last year but postponed the trip because of foot and mouth restrictions.

They hope to travel 50 miles a day after starting in Cornwall on July 21 and have not booked any accommodation except for the first night.

Ralph, who is a retired milkman, said that he expected the cost of staying over in bed and breakfasts and their food to set them back £50 a day.

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Ipswich-based Ryan Insurance, who are sponsoring them, offered to fund their expenses as well but the bachelors declined as they wanted as much money as possible to go to their good causes.

They said the most difficult parts of the journey would be Cornwall, Devon and the Pennines and they were hoping neither poor weather nor too many steep hills would hamper them.

But the pair is mostly concerned about the adventure they will have to undertake before even getting to their starting point in Cornwall – London.

They will have to take their bikes, laden with luggage, on to the train and negotiate the busy London Liverpool Street and Paddington stations on Saturday, July 20. They were worried they would get lost before they even got to Land's End.

Ralph, of Kirton Road, nominated Kirton Methodist Chapel as his chosen charity because he wanted to ensure the church would stay open.

The property steward at the chapel said he wanted to do something for his church again, as he raised £1,000 for the building in his last attempt at the cycling feat.

He was worried that the chapel would close if it did not receive the investment needed, as he had seen other churches in the area close down because there was not enough money or enough members in the congregation.

He hoped new investment would improve the toilets and area where people could socialise and hold events.

Percy, of High Road, chose the Macmillan nurses charity. He said: "They have done a lot of work for my sister-in-law. They tried to make life as pleasant as possible for all those unfortunate people."

The two men try to get out and cycle every day, but have not been training except for the odd ride up Bent Hill in Felixstowe to get used to the steep hills they may encounter.

Percy and Ralph will wake at 8.00 each morning in time for breakfast so that they can begin their day of cycling at 9.00am through to 5.00pm with a few stops in between for rest and time to look around the picturesque towns they will pass through.

Percy said they were looking forward to Chester in Cheshire, Cheddar in Somerset and Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. They were also hoping to visit the popular Eden Project, a horticultural extravaganza inside a number of vast greenhouses in Cornwall.

The two men will not be loaded with too much luggage as they will pack the bare minimum which will be stored in four different panniers, or saddle bags, around the bike. They said they were not going to take any luxuries, just the clothes they needed to wear.

They will have to provide the entertainment between themselves though as they will not have the space for a radio to listen to on their travels.

But Ralph said their entertainment would be provided by their visits to all the different places en route to their goal, John O'Groats in Scotland.

The two met more than 50 years ago and have been friends every since. Both enjoy gardening, but Ralph prefers to bowl in his spare time compared to Percy who would rather settle down with a good Western novel.

They have always enjoyed pedalling around the countryside, but Ralph and Percy have also walked the coast to coast route from Robin Hoods Bay, Yorkshire, to St Bees, Cumbria, three times between 1991 and 1995.

"I just think they're a couple of interesting guys and very brave and very typical of Suffolk blokes," said Colin Ryan, managing director of Ryan Insurance.

He said that people who wished to sponsor the two cyclists could call in at any of the six Ryan Insurance branches in East Anglia including the Felixstowe branch, based at Orwell Road and the Ipswich branch situated at London Road.