Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Cyclist rides equivalent of length of country for charity

A STUDENT from Goring cycled the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats during the third coronavirus lockdown to raise money for charity.

James Herbert completed the 1,083-mile challenge during February and March by riding an average of about 20 miles a day.

He followed different routes through the countryside around Goring and made a round trip to both Reading and Didcot at least once a week to help maintain his interest.

He cycled in snow and heavy rain while wearing protective clothing and his bike suffered a total of 12 punctures, including one in the final stretch of the last day.

James, 19, who lives in Cleeve Down with his parents Stephen and Kate and 16-year-old brother George, came up with the idea after being sent home from the University of Nottingham, where he is reading civil engineering, when the lockdown started just after Christmas. He knew he would be stuck at home for several months and wanted to use his time constructively.

James, a former pupil of Goring Primary School, said: “It made sense because I wanted to build up my fitness and had done a bit of cycling before so I thought I’d give it a go.

“It was tough at times, particularly during the snowy period, but luckily there wasn’t ice on the road so I only had to contend with the cold.

“Because I was going out every day, I did what I could to keep things varied like trying new routes or going in reverse around ones I already knew.

“It was definitely nice to see the days gradually drawing out and the weather getting warmer as I knew I could go out for longer and enjoy it.

“At the start, I was very conscious that I had to return by a certain time or it would be dangerously dark. The last two weeks were the hardest to motivate myself but with each day the end was nearer and I felt more confident that I’d finish. I also received a lot of support from my family and from friends on social media.

“It was a massive relief to complete the final trip, even if it was annoying to get a puncture just 4km from home.

“It was good to know it was finally over and I wasn’t going to have to go out again but at the same time I don’t want to stop completely because it has made a big difference to my fitness.”

James, who is a university league rugby referee, has so far raised £970 for the Bhubessi Pride Foundation, which helps communities in sub-Saharan Africa to develop through education and sport, especially rugby. His father grew up in South Africa.

He previously supported the charity by completing the Thames Path Challenge from London to Henley on three occasions, the first time in 2014.

James had hoped to take part in aid work in Africa last summer but had to abandon this because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead he raised money for the Mustard Seed Foundation, a similar initiative helping people in Uganda, by riding 150km on the roads between Oxford and Reading.

Mr Herbert said: “It would have been so easy for James to just sit in his room but we’re proud that he set himself a pretty ambitious target.

“It was a massive challenge as he didn’t do any preparation in advance and hadn’t tried anything like it in the past, so we’re impressed with his attitude and pleased that he’s supporting such a good cause as charities have taken a big financial hit during the pandemic.”

To make a donation, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/

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