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80-year-old cycles across the country
STRONG winds and big hills did not deter an 80-year-old grandfather from his mission of cycling the length of the country.
Denis Hedges pedalled into John O’Groats at 5pm on Wednesday after leaving Land’s End last Saturday. The veteran cyclist, who has spent the majority of his life racing on mountain bikes, said he has never attempted a challenge so hard in his life.
He embarked on the 900-mile trek to raise money for Make A Wish charity.
The organisation whisked his grandson Tom Hyde to Florida so he could swim with dolphins while he was recovering from a rare form of cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma.
Denis, of Old Town, left the southern tip of England last Saturday and since then he has been cycling an average of 85 miles a day.
According to the plucky pensioner, the most challenging part of the cycle was Rannoch Moor where he battled with strong head winds, which made the day a big struggle.
The most rewarding moments were spent at Altnaharra.
“The wilderness and openness and sunshine and water were lovely,” said Denis.
The first thing the 80-year did after he completed his once-in-a-lifetime trip was jump into a hot bath.
“I’m really looking forward to getting home and seeing my family.” he said.
“It’s exhilarating to have done it. It has been hard.
“I feel delighted that I have managed it – I’m just so pleased.”
His route took him through more than 10 counties but Denis said he picked the most direct route rather than the most picturesque.
He said: “It’s been marvellous. There has been so many wonderful people along the route. And everyone has been so generous. Drivers were always waving. There was a lot of traffic but I am used to that.
“It has been the most wonderful experience.”
And as well as the many people he has met along the way, Denis was equally pleased to see the sun make an appearance as he made his way into John O’Groats.
But rather than being relieved to have finally got off from his saddle, he plans to attend a race in Newbury a week on Sunday.
“I may go, I’ll see how I feel when I get home,” he said.
So far, Denis has collected £1,300. People can still donate to his cause by visiting www.justgiving.com/denis hedges.
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