Two local men took to their bikes last week and spanned the width of north England in just under two days as part of a demanding charity cycle.
Ryan Hill, from Cookstown, and Stephen Dawson, from Moneymore, were two of the forty cyclists taking part in the 180 mile challenge for their company Graham Construction, based in Hillsborough Co Down.
Ryan and Stephan were part of a four man team along with two other Irishmen that biked their way across England.
The challenge was to cycle coast to coast across England, beginning at Liverpool on Wednesday and across through Barnsley, onto Hull and finally stopping at Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire on Thursday evening, where Ryan and Stephen’s site office is based.
The coast-to-coast challenge was a corporate event that raised money for Multiple Sclerosis UK and Cat Zero, an organisation helping disadvantaged youths in the Humber and Grimsby area.
However, Ryan took the opportunity to raise some extra money for a charity of his own choice, Aithritis Research UK.
“I thought cycling nearly 200 mile would be worth getting a few pound out of some of the people back home. They were great, and about thirty people ended up donating nearly £400 for the cause”, said Ryan.
“The first day we cycled 87 miles. The last third of that was over the Pennine Mountains, and that was a seriously heavy cycle.” said Ryan.
There they had to get over Holme Moss climb, a 7km long ascent that gains almost 1300ft in altitude, the final kilometre of which is at a gradient of 11%.
One of England’s best known bicycle ascents, and has acquired a reputation as among the country’s more difficult climbs and featured in the 2014 Tour de France. Ryan describes the arduous climb as ‘almost vertical”.
The boys had only moderate experience in road cycling before embarking on the daunting challenge.
Ryan said: “We bought bikes at Christmas, and had been cycling regularly since then. Personally I’d never broken the 50 mile mark, so this was a whole new experience.
“We were travelling at average 16 miles per hour speed, and on the bikes for over seven hours each day”.