Two-wheeled adventurer returns

CYCLING along 350 miles of rocky mountainous terrain in temperatures of 98 degrees may not sound like everyone's idea of fun.But garden designer Yvonne Innes has recently returned from doing just that – all in aid of Cancer Campaign in Suffolk.

CYCLING along 350 miles of rocky mountainous terrain in temperatures of 98 degrees may not sound like everyone's idea of fun.

But garden designer Yvonne Innes has recently returned from doing just that – all in aid of Cancer Campaign in Suffolk.

On June 10, Yvonne, 58, set off on the trip of a lifetime – a 350 mile cycle ride along the Catholic pilgrimage route from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostella.

"I heard about the pilgrimage route and it just fascinated me. I think it's such a draw that so many thousands of people have walked the same way," Yvonne said.


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It took Yvonne eight days to complete her epic journey, cycling, on average, 45 miles a day. On some days she cycled as many as 70. "I cycled from about six or seven in the morning for as long as I possibly could!

"I wouldn't describe myself as a keen cyclist really. If I was asked to cycle to Aldeburgh and back I'd probably think 'I don't really want to do that', but because I had a destination, and there was no other option I just kept going."

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Yvonne stayed in a number of cheap hostels along the way and was kept company by her sister Maggie who travelled the same route in the comfort of her own car.

She said the hardest part of the journey was the first stage from Bilabo to Astorga. "The temperatures were very high and because it was just flat, open land there was no shade at all.

"Another of the worst moments was one particular day where my route took me right to the top of a huge mountain and the rain just absolutely plummeted down – so hard that it actually hurt.

"Usually there were always lots of other people around but on that day I lost everybody. That was the only time I really thought 'what am I doing?'"

Yvonne claims that picking a favourite moment is impossible as she has too many wonderful memories of her trip: "The scenery was fantastic, so many beautiful colours and wildflowers, and the beautiful sunrises made it all worthwhile. It was also lovely talking to people in the evenings and finding out their reasons for doing the pilgrimage. There were such a variety of people all making the same journey."

Yvonne and husband, Neil, are both patrons of Cancer Campaign in Suffolk and, so far, she has raised about £2,000 for the charity through sponsorship.

The couple hope to raise a further £1,500 at a Spanish party they held on Saturday . This money will be added towards that already collected by the Evening Star's Raise the Roof appeal. The appeal aims to raise the final £100,000 needed to put a roof on a cancer information and education centre due to be built later this year.

Yvonne said: "We chose to support Cancer Campaign in Suffolk because it's very local and when you get to our age you've lost so many people to the disease.

"There still seems to be this sort of stigma about asking for information. People still don't know where to go for advice, and this centre should be able to provide that."

When asked if she will be planning another journey like this Yvonne is adamant that this will not be her last: "I'm definitely going to do something similar again. It's nice to think that people might be encouraged to do this sort of thing and just take off. I think it's very important that people keep pitting themselves against things.

"People keep asking me why I do these things, but I really don't know. All I know is when I've done it, it feels great."

Yvonne would like to thank everyone who sponsored the bike ride – special thanks to Molly for collecting £100 from people at the local Riverside Centre – and thanks to everyone who is supporting the Spanish evening.

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