High Peak teens complete John O'Groats to Land's End bike ride raising thousands for dementia research
A pair of High Peak teenagers have raised more than £2,600 for a dementia research charity after cycling the length of Britain last month.
Isaac Brown and Lucas Parker both 19, completed the ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 14 days, arriving at their destination on Thursday, May 20.
Buxton resident Lucas said: “There were challenging moments, each day was an accomplishment in itself. It was a great feeling crossing that finish line."
Isaac, from New Mills, added: “We were mentally really up for it, but the last day was really hard because of the winds and a few technical problems with the bikes.
“It was a mixture of relief, satisfaction and sadness when we finished. Our mission was accomplished, we had done what we said we would do.”
The pair began their journey with a 13 hour drive north on a snowy day in Buxton, and over the course of the ride they rarely encountered the warm May weather they had hoped for.
Through hail, sleet, sun, high winds and rain, they covered 1,085 miles – an average 78 per day – including climbs of 21,732 metres, more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
The longest day’s ride was day two when they pushed on for 116 miles, and climbed nearly 2,000 metres from Lairg in the Highlands all the way to Fort William, via Inverness.
They conquered hundreds of miles with just a couple of punctured tyres, but the journey nearly stopped agonisingly short after a mechanical failure in 60mph winds in Cornwall. Just 30 miles from the end they had to go in search of shop and resorted to buying a new bike to reach the end.
As if all that was not hard enough, competitive fell runner Lucas stopped along the way to sprint up and down Glastonbury Tor and Britain’s three highest peaks, Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis, completing the latter in just two hours and 14 minutes.
He said: “We felt fit enough physically. We’d been training for months before, running and cycling, doing long rides and runs together all over the High Peak but we knew that endurance and mental resilience would be the biggest test for us.
“We began to develop strategies each day to make it easier. We had a plan each day and broke each section down into achievable chunks. We enjoyed the experience not just the challenge. I think staying off the A roads and soaking up the landscape, passing through the different towns and villages really helped us enjoy the ride.”
He added: “The vast open landscapes and amazing views were just incredible. A real highlight was after a pit stop in a café. We saw the whole of Glencoe open out before us, cycling down through the valleys with mountains either side.”
The pair had plenty of help along the way, thanks to a support of friends and relatives who met them on the road with bacon sandwiches and words of encouragement. Isaac’s dad Doug even cycled the stretch from Lancashire to north Wales alongside them.
Cycling has a long tradition in Lucas’s family too. His great great grandmother was one of the first members of the Cyclist Touring Club in Sheffield around the 1900s, and his great grandad ran one of the city’s first bicycle shops.
Lucas said: “Special thanks goes out to my dad, Robert, who helped us the whole way from when we first decided to do this, he’s amazing and helped make it happen.”
Friends since their early days together at St Thomas More School, Lucas and Isaac both say the experience has strengthened their bond.
Lucas said: “Some parts of the days we had to just get our heads down and keep going, it was pretty tough going at times. We were so in the flow, and now feel something is missing each day.”
The idea initially arose as something to work towards in the difficult days of lockdown but since returning home, both have been running and cycling each day and they are already contemplating their next big challenge.
Isaac said: “North to South of Ireland, taking on some tougher climbs in the Pyrenees, and the 3,000 metres climb of Galibier look great.
“The bike ride has taught us that amazing things can be achieved through planning, preparation, grit and determination. You just have to go for it.”
For now, they can also enjoy the reward of raising thousands of pounds for Alzheimer's Research UK – a choice inspired by painful losses for both families.
Lucas’s grandad and Isaac’s great grandad both suffered the devastating effects of the neurodegenerative disease.
The world’s largest dedicated dementia research charity, Alzheimer's Research UK funds groundbreaking scientific work in 39 universities all over the country, working to better understand the processes which cause dementia, and improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Lucas said: “My grandad is sadly missed. He was a very positive and determined man with fantastic memories from his family life and days as an international athlete and sports journalist. Alzheimer’s took all this away from him.
"We feel good about helping to make breakthroughs possible in the future through research, and are optimistic this that one day suffering and heartbreak that both our families have suffered because of Alzheimer’s will be no more.”
To relive the journey from start to finish, go to instagram.com/lucas_isaac_jogtle.
To add to their fundraising total, go to https://bit.ly/3fjqcSN.