Cyclist from West Sussex village prepares for 1,000-mile charity adventure riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats
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Jonathan Holland, 54, is riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats from May 12-25 to support both front-line care in the association’s West Sussex North Branch, as well as the charity’s national research programme.
Jonathan said his challenge was inspired by former rugby league players Kevin Sinfield CBE and Rob Burrow CBE and their fundraising for the MND Association. He was also inspired by the late Scottish rugby union star Doddie Weir OBE, who passed away after a long battle with MND.
Jonathan said: “I took up cycling again in the Covid lockdown, which is almost four years ago now, because I needed to be healthy when otherwise I wasn't doing anything.”
He now cycles five days a week and about 6,000 miles a year, having the advantage of living near Ashdown Forest. But Jonathan said he has never done a ride on this scale before and has 100 days to get ready.
He added: “I’m also part of the East Grinstead Cycling Club who do cycling every weekend, so I’m typically getting through 500 miles every month, cycling on the lovely lanes of Sussex in all weather.”
He said: “This ride is a big step up for me and it'll be quite an adventure.”
So far Jonathan’s JustGiving page, which went live on February 1 at www.justgiving.com/page/jonathan-holland-for-mnda, has raised £972.
“To get nearly £1,000 in 24 hours is excellent,” he said, adding that his target is £7,777 because Kevin Sinfield does events connected with seven and Rob Burrow’s shirt number was seven.
Jonathan said he is looking forward to the journey and the sense of achievement afterwards. He said: “I’ll get to see all the country – it’s England, Wales and Scotland – in every terrain. It sounds weird but it’s like a holiday. I’ll enjoy that it will be a holiday even if it's incredibly hard.”
The basic route with Pedal Britain goes through: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wales, Shropshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, the lowlands and borders of Scotland and into the high mountains and far north.
Jonathan said: “In my 50s I’m not blessed with the virtues of youth anymore.” But he added that he is determined and ‘not short of mental strength’.