Heathfield man retires - and cycles 4,000 miles around the coast of Great Britain

WHAT do most people do when they retire from a busy and demanding job?

They buy a bike and cycle almost 4,000 miles right round the coast of Great Britain, that’s what they do.

At least that was Michael Potter’s way of easing himself gently from the hectic environment of procurement management in the NHS to open-ended days when he could do exactly what he pleased.

Michael, 59 from Swaines Way, Heathfield took 12 months and employed some of his hard-earned negotiating skills to persuade his wife Ruth and daughter Naomi it would be a good idea if he disappeared on his trek for a month or two.

He bought a top-of-the-range touring bike then headed south to Eastbourne for the start of his two-wheeled coastal marathon.

Carrying 58lbs of equipment including a tent, spare clothes and a sleeping bag, he pedalled anti-clockwise around the coast covering about 60 miles a day.

He headed east to Dover, switched round to Margate, traversed London travelling east to Southend, rode up the North Sea shore via Clacton, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough and Lindisfarne to Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Wick and John o’Groats, swinging westwards to travel down the Atlantic coast. In between his punishing rides, Michael did a spot of sightseeing including a trip to Ben Nevis and Blackpool before following his dream to take a ‘ferry across the Mersey.’ He said: “I’m of that generation that remembers Gerry and the Pacemakers and that was a must-see highlight for me.”

Next came a southerly trip to Chester and a ride along the length of the Welsh coast, heading southwest through Devon, swishing past Lands End before riding back via Weymouth, the Isle of Wight and Brighton back to Eastbourne.

In total he covered 3,750 miles, beginning his journey on June 5 and finishing on August 6. Mike ‘wild camped’ a lot of of the time, finding Scotland’s ‘right to roam’ legislation made it easy to find suitable sites.

He said: “The first week was the toughest but I’ve invented the perfect diet. I started at 11 stone and dropped to nine stone, ten pounds. It was amazingly rewarding. I thought I’ve got to do something like this before I get too old. The young guns can have a go now.”

You can folow Michael’s progress at: https://sites.google.com/site/mikesbikeride1/