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Fund-raiser tours to 42 cathedrals on his bike

18 September 2015

reece parry

Enjoying a high­point: David Graham at Gloucester Cathedral, one of the stops on his 2500-mile cycle tour of churches and cathedrals in England, to raise money for the mental-health charity Rethink

Enjoying a high­point: David Graham at Gloucester Cathedral, one of the stops on his 2500-mile cycle tour of churches and cathedrals in England, to ra...

A MUSICIAN is preparing for the final leg of his sponsored 2500-mile cycle tour of the 42 cathedrals in England (News, 6 March).

David Graham, aged 44, will set out from his home in Oakham, Rutland, on 27 September, on a 675-mile route round the north country, ending with a 40-mile return to his “home” cathedral of Peterborough, on 3 October.

So far, he has raised more than £3100 towards his target of £4200 — £100 for each church visited. The money will go to the charity Rethink Mental Illness, in memory of his brother Allister, who died in 2008 of a drug overdose, owing to mental-health problems.

“Things have gone pretty well so far,” Mr Graham said this week. “I have now visited 28 cathedrals in five trips, including two big rides: to the south-east in May, and then the south-west in August. That was a seven-day trip of 730 miles, with, more significantly, a total of 45,000 feet of climbing — it’s very hilly down in Devon.”

Reaching Truro in Cornwall was one of his high points. “It’s the furthest from home, and, at times, I wasn’t even sure I would get there. I felt a real sense of achievement.”

He also enjoyed visiting the “grand ones” at Canterbury and London. “Canterbury is the ‘Daddy’ of the cathedrals, and they were very welcoming,” he said.

“A real surprise for me was Coventry. It’s a modern building, and not to everyone’s taste, at least from the outside, but the inside is amazing; it took my breath away.

“I loved the setting of Salisbury, with the Close surrounding it; and Guildford was a surprise. It looks a bit like a 1930s power station, but when I got inside it was completely different; there was some beautiful music playing, and they were really welcoming; so by the time I left I really liked it.”

Mr Graham, who took up cycling only in the summer of last year, was hampered on the south-eastern run by a sore knee, needing regular doses of pain killers. “That was unpleasant; it made it really hard work,” he said. “I regularly cycle up to 150 miles a week, but to do consecutive days of 100 miles is telling on your body.”

On the south-west section, he developed a condition called handlebar palsy. “I lost the use of two fingers on my right hand from being on the handlebars for so long.”

Low points were the days when the weather was bad, “but it wouldn’t be a challenge if there weren’t low points. The most difficult day I had was riding from Canterbury to Brighton. It was really stormy and windy. I was like a drowned rat. . . It was horrible.”

He hopes as many cyclists as possible will join him for his ride into Peterborough. He will post his start-point, somewhere near Newark, on his blog www.cathedralcycletour.com the day before.

To make a donation visit the website, or text the code DGDG71, followed by the amount, to 70070.

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