Banchory resident Ian Leftwich has just completed a marathon bike ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End and in doing so helped to raise a total of £10,000 for charity whilst fulfilling a lifetime ambition.
He rode in the ‘Ride Across Britain 2011’ event sponsored by Deloitte as part of their campaign to raise £1million for the British Paralympics team.
Ian and two colleagues from BP Aberdeen also raised money for their nominated charities: Alzheimer’s Society, Macmillan Cancer Research and Meningitis Research.
Some 500 cyclists took part, covering a total of 963 miles in just nine days with riders averaging over 100 miles per day and no rest day to recover.
All the months of planning and training for the event paid off as the three BP riders successfully completed the ride in spite of a prevailing headwind and unseasonal June weather.
Ian, 50, decided to test himself after seeing a request for volunteers on his company’s internet site back in January.
He said: “It may be a called a mid-life crisis but I was up for a challenge. Before this event I had never ridden 100 miles in one day and this demanded nine consecutive days of over 100 miles against prevailing wind direction!
When the opportunity presented itself I thought this is a case of now or never to fulfil a long-standing ambition of mine. Cycling is in my blood and a life-long hobby with my first cycling adventure at age of 12 on a cycling tour of Northumberland with 3 school friends.”
Because Ian only signed up in January it put him almost six months behind the recommended time to start preparing for the bike ride and he admits that the majority of his spare time has been taken up by training since March.
He said: “A comprehensive training plan, including dietary advice, was provided by organisers tailored to level of experience and ability.
“The bad winter weather made cycling difficult early on but I gradually built up endurance to 80-plus mile rides on consecutive days, mainly at weekends but also started commuting to my work in Dyce on bike which added up to about over 200 miles per week.
“I also joined some keen cyclists on weekend training rides from Banchory up Deeside and around local areas.
“Virtually all my free time was taken up with cycling which meant I didn’t see much of my family for three months!”
Tough conditions meant that the riders were faced with rain and a strong headwind throughout the journey.
Ian said: “The weather made for difficult cycling conditions at times, especially when camping in tents each night.
“For me the seventh day was the hardest, both mentally and physically, with being close to finish but not close enough! Even though it was the shortest stage on paper it finished with a demanding steep climb up to Bath racecourse and I felt drained at that point and really had to dig deep.”
Although conditions were tough at times Ian added that the whole process had been worth it.
“There was a great sense of achievement arriving to a heroes’ welcome at Land’s End, the Cornish pasty and cream tea after the finish was a particular highlight as was the team spirit and camaraderie throughout the event.”
“Prior to the event, the organisers claimed that the key to success was 85% in the mind and 15% in the body, quoting their motto “More is in you” and I can now appreciate what they meant.”
On behalf of the team, Ian would like to acknowledge all of the generous support received to date. Anyone wishing to make a donation can still do so via the charity fundraising website: virginmoneygiving.com/team/bpaberdeen