A team of cyclists led by York dad Gary Duncanson completed an epic fundraiser for us in June this year.
He channelled two loves in his life – football and fatherhood – by cycling 250 miles from Wembley Stadium to the Stade De France in Paris.
Gary’s son Billy received heart surgery at the LGI when he was just 2 weeks old and is now a fit and healthy 18 months old.
From left to right above: the cycling team also included Steve Castle, Jonny Handley, Darren Rudge-Cox and Daniel Howarth. Gary’s partner Jen is pictured with Billy, while Gary himself is with their other son Lucas.
We asked Gary to give us the lowdown on his trip – which will have raised over £5,000 for CHSF, once we add Gift Aid to their donation:
How was the challenge?
Brilliant and a great experience. Bearing in mind 3 of us had to buy a bike for this challenge you can see how much of one it was.
Before I started my training the furthest I’d ever biked was 5 miles to work! 272 miles in total (after getting lost a number of times) and it was incredibly hard at times, but we all loved every minute of the ride and it was well worth it.
Any unforeseen circumstances?
Hills! I thought France was supposed to be flat. Getting out of London!! We got lost so much at the beginning which added so much unnecessary mileage and no matter what Boris Johnson says, London is not bike friendly.
Also getting into and around Paris was just as bad especially when the banks of the river Seine had burst causing all the flooding not long before we set off and therefore destroyed a large part of our route. This alone added 30 miles.
Darren hit a small hidden wall whilst in the middle of nowhere going at some speed. He blew both tyres and spun round, somehow majestically came off his bike and landed on his feet unscathed. His back wheel was a mess but we were only 3 miles away from the nearest bike shop which were few and far between in northern France.
Did you regret the choice of destination following England’s poor show at the Euros?
Definitely not. It was more of a symbolic route giving the fact we went from the heart of English football to the heart of French football and with the Euros been on we knew the media would love it and pick up the story.
This way we hoped for the publicity and donations for such a great cause so we definitely didn’t regret the destination. We also picked a few donations up on route. Besides, when you met other England fans and they asked how you got there, you should have seen their faces when we replied; we biked!
You can read more about his extraordinary trip in this Yorkshire Post article.