Youngster cycles into history

FOR even the most experienced of cyclists a 140-mile trek across some of England's toughest terrain would be a gruelling feat that would test their ability to the hilt.

FOR even the most experienced of cyclists a 140-mile trek across some of England's toughest terrain would be a gruelling feat that would test their ability to the hilt.

So when eight-year-old Frans van Helvert decided to ride from the Irish to the North Sea by way of the Lake District and via the Pennines his main aim was to just complete the daunting challenge.

But the Ipswich youngster, who was accompanied by his father Janus during the recent half- term, now has a double reason to celebrate.

Not only did he finish the trek, part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network known as the C2C route, within just four days but in doing so it is believed he became the youngest person to ever complete it.

It was an exhausting experience and not without its difficulties but Frans, who attends St Helens Primary School in Ipswich, now has the cycling bug and is keen for more adventures in the future.

He said: “On the first day I got scared seeing how big the mountains were, but I got more confident and began to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

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“There were difficult bits like when I cried a little because my hands were freezing going down a mountain early one morning, also a swan attacked us by a river, and I fell off on a gravel section bruising my chest. But I kept going.

“I'm very pleased that I was able to complete it and I would like to do something similar again - but not exactly the same route.”

Proud dad Janus said when they started the ride he had no idea his son would end up in the record books.

He said: “I knew he would be fairly young compared to other cyclists but I had no idea he would be the youngest ever.

“It was only when we started meeting other people and they said 'oh he's so young' that we thought there was a possibility.

“One lady mentioned to us that she thought the youngest person to complete it was nine-years-old so when we got home I contacted Sustrans and it turned out to be true.”

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