GWENT father and son Andy and Nathan Reeks will achieve a lifetime’s dream when they set off to cycle the length of the United Kingdom.
Andy, aged 63 and his son estate agent son Nathan, 35, both from Caldicot, are in training for the gruelling Land’s End to John O’Groats (Lejog) cycle ride in aid of Newport-based St David’s Hospice Care
Andy, Chairman of Caldicot Running Club and Nathan, one of the directors of Caldicot-based Nathan James Estate Agents, are aiming to complete the momentous, 1,019 mile ride in July.
And who better to get advice and tips on the Lejog than St David’s Hospice Care deputy chief executive Wales rugby international Adrian Hadley who has himself completed the ride.
The Monmouthshire dad and son visited St David’s Hospice Care, in Malpas, Newport, recently to see for themselves where the money they raise will go and to discuss tactics with Adrian.
“It’s great to get tips from someone who was actually endured and completed the ride.
“Dad and me have always had a shared interest in sport. Andy is an accomplished runner, and with his encouragement and coaching I followed in his footsteps as a teenager. “
A friend of the family carried out this impressive ride with Andy in the support team in 1990. When local champion cyclist, Pauline Strong, set a female endurance record of just under two days and seven hours for Lejog.
“Lejog is something that we have talked about doing ourselves for many years although not at the pace set by Pauline. With our family business established, and children growing up, we just felt the time was right to go for it now.”
The pair aim to complete the ride in 12 days covering some 100 miles a day and staying at Caravan Club site pitches, donated by the organisation, along the way. The pair are being supported along the way by good friend, local man, Ian Waite.
“We really couldn’t do this trip without Ian’s help and support. He is our ‘ life support’ on the trip. Ian will be driving the camper van, cooking and even servicing the bikes each night ready for the next day’s ride.”
It’s a long time to be together with another person on a challenging charity event such as this so how do you pair get along?
“It’s fair to say that we get on really well – but ask us again at the end of the ride. We work together on a daily basis. We go on caravan trips together and my dad has coached my running.
“It will, of course, be a more intense experience over the duration of the challenge, but we both have the knowledge that we have each other’s total support to complete the ride.
“We are distance runners rather than riders, both with marathons under our belt. So distance cycling is new to us. But we’ve taken it in our stride, and are now comfortable doing 60-mile training rides. We are looking at covering around 100 miles a day on the ride, so we are where we need to be at the moment.
“At the start of the ride are some fairly substantial climbs and we are not looking forward to those hard, early climbs. We are really looking forward to calling back into Caldicot en route, and of course the sight of the first Welcome to Scotland sign will be a huge relief.
“Pride, determination and the fact that we want to raise money for St David’s Hospice Care will keep us going every day. We will complete the ride no matter what. But we want to do it on schedule, and with our fundraising target of £10,000 reached as we cycle into John O’Groats.
“We have already held a charity quiz night to start off the fundraising. It was hosted by former TV Egghead, CJ De Mooi, and we raised over £800 on the night. We are now looking at a celebrity curry night in the Spring. Some local schools will also be supporting our ride, and we will be calling in on our bikes to educate them about the trip and its geography.
“Carole Waite, a director of the business, has witnessed first-hand the terrific work that St David’s Hospice Care do in our local communities. We therefore saw this as a natural opportunity to say a big thank you for the work that they did, and to help other families benefit from caring clinical support at a difficult time.”
Adrian Hadley, who says he still has nightmares about his ride, said:
“I take my hat off to the pair. I’ve ridden that route and believe me it’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s one hell of a challenge and St David’s Hospice Care is supremely grateful for them choosing to complete the ride in aid of the charity.”
The Reeks say that they are grateful for any donation no matter how big or small. People can donate in person at Nathan James Estate Agents’ office, or online using their Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nathan-reeks