Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Epic charity cycle ride down through Europe for Darron
One man’s remarkable bike ride from the top of Europe to the bottom has raised about £3,000 for charity.
Dad-of-two Darron Speck, of Thornton, travelled, alone on just a bicycle, more than 5,000 miles across 13 countries in 81 days in aid of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The 43-year-old experienced temperatures between -15C and a “hellish” 52Ccelsius, battled blistering sunburn, heat exhaustion, altitude sickness and mosquitoes, and had to contend with a damaged bike that left him without his ‘easy’ gears for the majority of the trip.
But Mr Speck said: “It was an awesome, inspiring, amazing adventure. I loved it. If I had the money I would have caught a ferry to Africa and cycled down Africa.”
His mammoth journey started at North Cape in Norway and finished, via Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and San Marino, on Malta.
He had originally planned to head through Germany, but had to change his route because of flooding in Sweden. He then ended up on a ferry to Estonia and went that way instead.
The route drama didn’t end there though because he ended taking a wrong turn in Austria and accidentally going through Slovenia as well.
The customer relations manager, who took three months’ unpaid leave to tackle the challenge, said he generally navigated his way with the help of the sun, rivers, railways and motorways.
“Some things will vividly stick in my head,” said Mr Speck, whose accommodation consisted mainly of wild camping and hostels. “Parts of Norway were proper wilderness. I didn’t see another human being for the whole first week, no cars or anything.”
He continued: “I was cycling alongside a mountain and could see lots of wild reindeer. One of the reindeer was eating something by the road, but saw me and started to run.
“But it couldn’t run off the road because there was a sheer drop on one side and sheer rock on the other, so I was racing this reindeer down the road.”
He also cycled up Mount Vesuvius in Italy and Mount Etna in Sicily. In Norway, he ran out of food and water at one stage but had to keep cycling until he found a clear river to drink from.
But was it a difficult challenge? He said: “It wasn’t that bad! The first three weeks every day was a real struggle, but after that, once I had got into it, it wasn’t that bad.”
He admitted struggling with the at times intense heat. He said: “It was even 45C in the Baltic states. Everyone kept saying it was never normally this hot - I got sick of people saying it.
“It would have been great for a holiday, but not to cycle in. Cycling over the Alps in 40C heat was awful.”
He added: “I am pleasantly surprised with myself. One of the main reasons I picked this challenge was I genuinely didn’t think I could do it. Finding out I was stronger than I thought is quite a nice feeling.”
Also somewhat surprising was the fact that Mr Speck did not get any punctures along the way.
To sponsor him for doing the challenge, visit justgiving.com/darronspeckcycleride.