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No easy ride for Carbooke birthday boy

PUBLISHED: 10:48 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:21 08 July 2010

On turning 60 most people would be thinking about slowing down and taking it easy - but a Norfolk cyclist is gearing up for the ride of his life.

On turning 60 most people would be thinking about slowing down and taking it easy - but a Norfolk cyclist is gearing up for the ride of his life.

Just days before he celebrates his birthday Don Saunders, from Carbrooke, near Watton, will put himself through a test most men half his age would find daunting.

In just four days he will cycle from London to Edinburgh and back again, a distance of 817 miles.

Along the way there will be re-fuelling points every 50 to 60 miles where Mr Saunders will be able to eat and catch up on some sleep but that will usually involve sleeping on the floor of a village hall.

He said: “Although this might be an option I am booked in at a Premier Inn on the first night but I will have to cycle 210 miles on the first day for that luxury.

“After that the weather and how I feel will dictate where and when I sleep and eat as I only have 105 hours, that is 4 days, 9 hours and 10 minutes, to complete the journey.

“That works out at an average speed of 8.25 mph if I was cycling all the time.”

If all goes according to plan Mr Saunders, who works as a community involvement coordinator for the Family Action Wellfamily Service in Saffham, will cross the finish line just one day before he reaches his milestone birthday on July 31.

He is completing the gruelling cycle along some other members of Cycling Club Breckland who will join 650 cyclists from the UK and beyond taking on the challenge, which is staged only once every four years.

But the test of endurance will not be anything new for him.

He said: “When I was younger I rode 24 hour time trials where I would ride around a set course without stopping.

“The most I did in those was 465 miles.”

In preparation for the forthcoming event Mr Saunders has already completed a number of 100, 200, 300 km rides and he also took part in a 400km cycle which involved riding through the night from Alfreton, near Derby, to Pickering in the Yorkshire Moors and back.

He said: “Although the motive for riding this event is to prove to myself that at nearly 60 I can still cut the mustard I am riding on behalf of the charity the Garden Science Trust, which is based at the EcoTech centre in Swaffham.”

But anybody who thought that crossing the finish line and entering his 60s would see Mr Saunders putting on the brakes should think again.

“I am already entered on a 100km event with my two grandchildren at the end of August and I am determined to do a 22 minute, 10 mile time trial on the tandem with my 11-year-old grandson Declan before the season's end,” he added.

To sponsor Mr Saunders go to www.help.co.uk and then type in Don on the sponsor a friend section.

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