Nine golfers from Sleaford showed real pedal power when they cycled over 400 miles to raise thousands of pounds in memory of a friend.
The team set off from Truro in Cornwall on Thursday last week for their gruelling four-day journey back to Sleaford - which they called ‘The Long Ride Home’.
They did all this to raise money for LIVES - in memory of their friend Andy ‘Stix’ Thomas - a former RAF bandsman and father-of-three. Andy suffered a heart attack on stage in Heckington last year, and despite the efforts of LIVES first responders, he died aged just 55.
Cycling golfer, Rob Cumming, explained: “We wanted to do something to celebrate Andy’s life, so a cycle ride from his Cornwall birth place to his adopted Lincolnshire home, seemed a fitting tribute.”
Rob said the team, who have an average age of 52, were left very ‘bruised and exhausted’ by the gruelling journey.
“We had been in training for 10 months for this - but nothing could really prepare us,” he said. “We cycled through rain and a hail storm, up steep hills in Cornwall and against 25mph headwinds. We had never been so happy to be back in Lincolnshire as it is so flat.”
The members have smahed their fundraising target of £10,000 - with over £15,000 raised for their efforts.
The team members were Rob Cumming, Paul Ellis, Fred Flatters, Dave Hodge, Kay Gilman, Justin Arbon, Nikki Cumming, Paul Gilman and Steve Pashley. Gary Biegaj who acted as the team’s support driver also cycled some of the route to help out.
Paul Ellis commented: “Stix was our friend, our leader, our pillar of truth and justice, chief organiser, peacemaker, higher authority on which we grew to depend. His loss was severely felt by so many people.
It was our pleasure to put ourselves to the ultimate test for 400 miles of gruesome hurt and pain on a bicycle to honour the man and the people from LIVES who were there to offer the initial support to our friend. LIVES is such a worthwhile and commendable charity who go where mere mortals fear to tread.”
The team’s journey home ended with a much-needed rest and a celebration back at Sleaford Golf Club - where the cyclists were greeted by supporters including Andy’s family, and representatives from LIVES.
Rob added: “The reception we got back at the golf club was tremendous and so emotional. Andy’s widow Jane gave us all Cornish pasties and certificates, and his grown-up children Lisa, Zoe and Luke, gave speeches.”
The team is hoping to take on another challenge in August - Ride London - where they hope to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
To donate to the team’s charity fund - visit their Justgiving page.