A Bangor resident has completed a 280-mile cycle trek along the Great Wall of China — having avoided the saddle of a bicycle for the last 20 years.
Richard Wilkinson, along with his wife Jennifer, took up the challenge to cycle the mountainous distance as an “alternative” way to celebrate his 40th birthday — managing to raise thousands of pounds for their chosen charities along the way.
Richard told the Community Telegraph: “I’ve have never done anything like this before, let alone been near a bike in the last 20 years or so.
“I don’t know what inspired me to do it, I just wanted to do something different and mark my birthday in a different way. I thought Cancer Research was an excellent charity to support. Those who come to the bowls club I manage were very much behind me to help raise sponsorship.
“I got a bike last December and did a little training on that before I went out, but I still surprised myself that I was able to do this distance over the 10 days.
“I would say to anybody, no matter what their fitness levels, to give something like this a go — you will never experience anything like it. It was demanding, yes, as it was quite hilly in parts but if someone like me can do it — any body can.
“We passed a lot of remote rural villages along the route we took, and you could see an awful lot of poverty there. But at the same time we couldn’t believe the quality of their roads.
“They were so smooth and there wasn’t a pot hole in sight — our country here could learn a thing or two about the way the Chinese build their roads.
“My wife raised a large amount for Bangor Samaritans and she really enjoyed it too, and like me she hadn’t been on a bike previously to this trip.
“I think we both have caught a bit of the adventuring lifestyle now and hope to do something like this again in a few years time — perhaps something in India or the Amazon.
“I hoping to lose some weight on the trek, but we were fed so well every day of the trail that never happened. We had the opportunity to see things you would never get to see on a normal holiday and made lots of friends with all the other charity fundraisers who were doing the golf challenge.”
If you are interested in fund raising for your favourite charity in a different way, visit www.challengecharity.com.