VETERAN fundraiser Jeffrey Long is preparing for his latest effort, a 300-mile cycle ride - but first he has to learn how to ride!

The 87-year-old marathon walker will be branching out into long-distance cycle rides in the autumn.

The Bingley old soldier is planning to ride from London to Paris in aid of veterans’ charities.

The former paratrooper picked up his bike from the Halfords store in Keighley and has now only got to learn how to ride it.

His only previous experience of riding a bike was as a 12-year-old boy when he rode from Bradford to Ilkley and back on a machine with a broken frame.

The experience put him off so much he has not been on one since.

Now he has a six-week training programme and four months practising ready to the 300-mile ride in four days in September.

The ride will finish with a spring on the Champs Elysees, the famous ending point of the Tour de France.

He is taking part in the Royal British Legion’s Pedal to Paris event - with 2020 being the 25th anniversary year.

The Legion team will be helping him with training plans and dietary advice and he is set to join hundreds of others on the ride.

He is also planning other fundraisers.

One is to walk blindfold around a football pitch - such as Bradford City - to raise money for blind ex-service veterans and guide dogs while he is also thinking of doing a 100-mile walk on the west coast of England for Para veterans - with a wish to meet World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury if he can arrange it.

Jeffrey is no stranger to marathon fundraising efforts.

Last year he undertook a 88-mile challenge in his 88th year, hoping to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, helping causes such as bereaved children and the Pot of Gold scheme.

Jeffrey’s charity walking began with London to Lausanne in Switzerland in just 39 days when he was 75.

He had hoped to organise and take part in a 650-mile cycle ride between the two cities but had to pull out after hurting his leg.

“Eventually, I decided to walk the distance even though I wasn’t a walker,” said Jeffrey. “And that was the start of my charity walking and I have done all sorts since.” His successes include the Three Peaks and Leeds to Liverpool canal.

And all this has been achieved despite a couple of health conditions such as a bad back.

It has also taken four pairs of boots since 2007. “But believe it or not, I am still wearing the same pair of socks,” said Jeffrey. “They don’t even have a hole in them!”

In 2018, he successfully completed a 100-mile walk along the south coast to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Sadly, when he crossed the finish line, he had raised just £25, but a quick appeal on Twitter saw support pour in from all over the world swelling the pot to £27,000 in just 24 hours.

Celebrities including, comedians Iain Lee, Al Murray and Jason Manford, newsreader Alastair Stewart and author Neil Gaiman all tweeted their support for Jeffrey, at which point he received donations from as far afield as Toronto, Paris and New York.

That was the second time that Jeffrey has ‘gone viral’ – the previous year a Twitter intervention by Jason Manford helped Jeffrey to raise £120,000 for the armed forces community.

Mr Manford later met Jeffrey in his home town of Bingley to congratulate him on his 86-mile trek along the Thames, with the comedian later taking to Facebook to say he had met “the man, the myth, the legend. Jeffrey!”