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Suffolk trio travel 2,100 to Pisa and back for Riding for Arthritis challenge

PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 June 2018

The Riding for Arthritis team, Andrew Nickson, Charles Harvey and Stuart Garrard before their 2,100 mile journey from Wetheringsett to Pisa and back Picture: JOE NICKSON

The Riding for Arthritis team, Andrew Nickson, Charles Harvey and Stuart Garrard before their 2,100 mile journey from Wetheringsett to Pisa and back Picture: JOE NICKSON

Joe Nickson

A Suffolk arthritis sufferer and two friends have completed a 2,100 mile European adventure, raising £6,500 to help people affected by the disease.

The team at the Piaggio musuem in Italy Picture: CHARLES HARVEYThe team at the Piaggio musuem in Italy Picture: CHARLES HARVEY

Andrew Nickson, who has ankylosing spondylitis, an acute form of arthritis, undertook the 10-day “Riding for Arthritis” challenge from his home in Wetheringsett, near Stowmarket, to Pisa in Italy and back again.

Riding a battered old Aprilia 125 scooter, Mr Nickson, who works at Ipswich School, was joined by his friends Stuart Garrard and Charles Harvey, as they headed to the headquarters in Italy where the ageing vehicle came from.

With Mr Garrard riding an Aprilia 750 Shiver and Mr Harvey driving a 49-year-old Land Rover, the group said their “curious mix of vehicles certainly turned heads”.

Restricted by the 125cc engine, the trio had to avoid motorways and travelled at an average speed of just 30-45mph. The cross country route took the trio through “wonderful scenery”, Alpine climbs and long routes through mountain tunnels.

In a report of their adventures, the group said: “The route meant a lot of slow running along country roads with endless roundabouts and a few winding mountainous climbs, none of which helped Stuart whose Shiver ran very hot and gently cooked him, or Charles with no power steering and constant gear and overdrive changes suffered aching arms.

“Andrew, meanwhile, relied on painkillers to ease his arthritis.”

Arriving at their destination, the Aprilia (Piaggio) headquarters and museum, in Pontedera, near Pisa, the three adventurers met with the president of Aprilia Racing for a private tour and lunch.

Completing the return journey after a total of 10 days on the road, the group reflected their trip had been “fairly incident free” apart from a few power problems, overheating and a couple of minor crashes.

“The scooter came home on a trailer towed by the Land Rover and Andrew had a well deserved rest, travelling in a little more comfort,” the group added.

The team has raised almost £6,500 for Arthritis Research UK, which invests in treatments and support for people affected by the disease. “We want to say a huge thank you to all those who have already donated,” they said.

Visit Riding for Arthritis to find out more and make a donation.

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