THE most gruelling challenge of his life, CatZero delivery officer David Andrews finally completed the Southport to Hornsea Transpennine Trail after three tough days of mud, rain, nettle stings and broken pathways.
Normally a group fundraiser, a CatZero Coast to Coast Challenge was pencilled in for 2020 but the cycle ride was postponed due to a number of other events planned at the time. David had already announced his intention to join in via his YouTube channel so when the challenge for that year was cancelled, he took it as an opportunity to ride solo!
Not having ridden a bike since he was a child, much less a bike with gears, David initially found it difficult getting back into the saddle but one for lapping up new experiences, he relished the chance to hone a new skill. His training was going well, he was on schedule and prepared for the challenge when the world was thrown into the global Covid-19 pandemic.
After more than a year with the ride on the back-burner, and with lockdown restrictions gradually being lifted, David was able to set a departure date of June 25, 2021.
“I was intending to do the ride completely by myself, without a back-up team, but a couple of my YouTube friends, Mandy and John, recently offered to provide support, so I took them up on the offer,” David said. “I’m glad I did as without them, I would still probably be out there now! Their help was invaluable; plying me with sustenance at ‘food stops’, making sure I was mentally and physically okay, and helping keep the bike in shape. They were truly amazing.”
David, Mandy and John set off from the Hull area on Thursday, June 24, arriving in Southport in good time to prepare for the 2021 CatZero Coast to Coast Challenge the following day. After a hearty hotel, all-you-can-eat breakfast, David, also known to his pals as ‘Mevi’, set off on a dry June morning soon to be met with large rain clouds and torrential downpours!
He stated: “I was soaked to the skin and I hadn’t been cycling very long! Overall, it was a fairly damp first day but I had a good ride through to Manchester, where we spent the first night.
“The second day, however, was a different kettle of fish. Some of it was like cycling through a wilderness, with paths overgrown, nettles up to my waist and missing signposts. While there was some of the most amazing scenery going over the Pennines, there was a chunk of trail in the middle where you had to pick up your bike, drag it or push it – it was impossible to cycle it!”
Naturally, some of these tougher moments took their toll on David mentally and physically, but he found there were some re-routing options available by day three, which took him on more of the roads than overgrown tracks. Still a tough challenge, as he had cycled 150-miles in two days by this point, the homeward leg was less grim and a sense of achievement was beginning to kick in.
“By the very last feed stop, a couple of people who had been keeping tabs on my journey through social media joined in with the ride so they could find out about CatZero and what we do,” David explained. “It was a pleasant ride through to Hornsea and I was able to share the end of the race with some fantastic people, including the wonderful John and Mandy support crew!”
At the time of writing, David was proud to be but a few pounds off his £2,000 fundraising target, a total he is certain to achieve in the coming days. He is keen to point out that all of the funding CatZero receives to run programmes must be match-funded, meaning the organisation has to find that money through other fundraising means. David paid for all hotels and equipment himself during his Transpennine Challenge so all of the cash he has raised goes directly to CatZero.
“Would I do it again?” he finished. “No, probably not. It’s a real emotional rollercoaster and there were times when I thought I might quit, but I am proud of the achievement and I might even keep the bike for exercise and social events, but I won’t do anything like that again – the challenges only get harder and longer after this one!”
To help David over his target, donate at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.