A group of 17 madcap bikers (including myself) are set to riding from Land's End to John O’Groats today in a bid to raise £100,000 for Cancer Research.
The Longest Day Down charity run challenges riders to ride the length of Great Britain in 24 hours, without using motorways, on bikes worth less than £300. However, my Yamaha XJ900F has had some serious exhaust issues (it fell off and broke the studs) so I'll be using a Yamaha MT-09 instead.
The Riders set off from Land’s End at sunrise on the longest day of the year with the aim to be at John O’Groats before sunrise the following day. The route is over 900 miles.
Now in its sixth year, the run has raised over £90,000 and is due to top the £100k. #ride5000miles member Keith Bousfield is among the entrants on a particularly ropey Yamaha Diversion.
“June 21 would have been my sister’s birthday,” he said. “She died of cancer, so the fact that LDD takes place on June 21 every year is a great tribute. It didn’t take much persuasion to get a group of mates from our local bike club to come along, and before you know it everything escalated from there and we’re all wearing furry suits.
"They did the trick though, because everywhere we stopped on the route, people would ask what we were up to, and then donate. We collected nearly £300 on the day alone in collection buckets.”
“It’s a wonderful event, because it sums up the camaraderie of biking,” says series organiser John McAvoy. “And while it’s light hearted, it’s a real challenge too, requiring lots of planning, concentration and endurance. Anyone who completes it deserves credit. I’ve done it before and I reckon it is the hardest thing I’ve done on two wheels.”
Personally, I wanted to do something for charity that summed up the #ride5000miles ethos, so bought the XJ. The preparation weeks, were a blur of pretending to ignore the very rattly camchain – that and the smell from the mangy fur.
The average biker covers 3000 miles, anyone who completes the LDD does a third of that in one day – on bikes most of us wouldn’t ride to the shops.
Donate at: www.thelongestdaydownchallenge.co.uk
What is R5K?
MCN’s campaign aims to encourage riders to cover 5000 miles in a year.
How do I do it?
Make a note of your mileage at the start of your biking year. Take a photo at the start and end of the challenge.
Five reasons to sign up
1. It’ll make you a better rider.
2. You’ll know your bike better than ever, and enjoy it more.
3. It’ll make you ride to places you’ve never been before.
4. Be part of a top biking community.
5. Share tips on where to ride and what kit can go the distance.
How to sign up: www.facebook.com/ groups/ride5000miles