CYCLING what he thought was 80 miles would have been a big enough achievement for former Paxton man David Carr but just a week before he took on his journey from Chain Bridge to Tynemouth he discovered that he was actually about to take on a 92 mile trek!
The August 28 cycle was one of three fundraising challenges David has taken on to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and now he’s finished it and climbed down off the saddle he can tick two off his list, leaving just next year’s Great North Swim to complete.
He has been due to tackle the fundraising feat at Lake Windermere the past two years but a cancellation and a chest infection prevented him from doing so.
And although he only completed the Chain Bridge to Tynemouth ride last weekend - the latter part of which saw him join up with the 2011 Great North cycle - he was back in the pool on Thursday to get himself in shape for next year.
David, who now lives in Gateshead, was happy to report that he didn’t suffer any bumps or bruises while aboard his cycle for 92 miles and was also pleasantly surprised at how quickly he recovered from his mammoth task.
He told The Berwickshire News: “I definitely understated it a bit. I thought 80 miles was downplaying it a tad but I didn’t want to overestimate the distance as I didn’t want to short change anyone who’d made fundraising pledges.
“I came up to Berwickshire the week before the cycle and after five hours driving around studying the route and consulting a Coast & Castles cycle map I realised I’d misinterpreted the distance by some way!
“Thankfully when it came to the cycle it wasn’t actually that bad and aside from my knee starting to giveway in the last 15 miles and a bit of fatigue setting in I was fine and I recovered a lot quicker than I did after the Northern Rock Cyclone event (the first of his challenges) - I think I’m a bit fitter now.”
That’s not to say that David’s day was a gentle cycle in the park, the terrain of Berwickshire and Northumberland can be quite unforgiving and he said the weather wasn’t always his best friend during the ride.
“To be honest the weather was a bit ropey on the day; it definitely wasn’t the best for cycling. It wasn’t too bad going from Chain Bridge down to the coast, the part of the ride when it really hit me was turning inland from Beal to go to Belford.
“The wind had been behind me up until that point but all of a sudden it was right in my face which didn’t help at all as that bit was very hilly.”
After being given a suitably Scottish send off at Chain Bridge from some friends and family, David was on his own until Seahouses with just his saddle for company so he admitted he was happy to see one of his work colleagues waiting for him at Seahouses for the final leg.
“The sound of the pipes were blasting from the stereo of my son’s car when I set off. I’d put a CD of pipe music in there for the occasion and got him to open the doors so I could hear it clearly when I set off.
“He offered to meet me at Cocklawburn with my bags so I didn’t have to carry any extra weight on the first part of the cycle - there are some particularly tricky inclines from Paxton to Berwick.
“I knew that by the time I got to Seahouses I’d be too late to join up with the riders taking part in the Great North Cycle, I got to take in Bamburgh Castle in all its splendour as I was crawling up the hill towards it at about two miles an hour.
“I think I missed the other cyclists by about 30-45 minutes so I was glad to see my workmate there when I arrived. I was grateful for the company and we managed to catch up with some of the riders; I’d say I averaged about 9mph.
“When we reached Tynemouth I had to cycle another three miles to my son’s house to get my car.
“My friend from work then suggested that I cycle a few more to round it up to 100 miles - needless to say I told him where to go!”
After cycling 92 miles, you wouldn’t blame David for taking a few weeks off from any form of exercise, but determined that it’ll be third time lucky for the Great North Swim, he is already back in training.
“You’ve got to keep plugging away,” he said.
“At my age if you take too much of a break it’s very hard work when it comes to starting back up.
“I’m hoping that as more people find out about what I’m doing more fundraising pledges will come in.
“My mum lives in Somerset now but she saw the last story in The Berwickshire News before I did; an old neighbour from Paxton had sent her a copy. She knows I’m mad but I don’t think she ever expected me to do anything like this.
“I’ve put the article up at work too and quite a few people have taken an interest, it’s also been read in Canada and Australia so it’s a well travelled story!”