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Cleric, 85, is saddled with 874-mile ride across Britain

24 August 2018

Bryony Davis

AN 85-year-old priest is cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for charity.

The priest, the Revd Peter Langford, from Beccles, in Suffolk, set off last Saturday, which was his birthday, on the 874-mile route. He plans to make it to the north-eastern tip of Scotland on 12 September.

He is hoping to raise £8000 to be split between three charities: the Friends of St Michael’s, Beccles; Ringsfield Hall Trust; and Médecins Sans Frontières.

His daughter, Maggi Evans, said on Tuesday that he was doing the ride because he was “stubborn” and “very, very determined”. Mrs Evans said: “My mum died 12 years ago, and he [Mr Langford] stopped having a car, and has cycled everywhere since. It is his normal mode of trans­port now.”

When asked why he was doing the journey for the third time, Mr Langford said: “When I was at school, I was hopeless at football and other ball games, except perhaps table tennis. I got rid of some of the sense of failure by rowing almost every day when I was at university and getting into the College first boat, but there is still a residue of shame left. Also, I fear there is an element of pride. However, I am uncomfortable with all the self-advertising needed to get sponsorship. I prefer to be more subtle.”

He said that “determination”, more than training and fitness, was what was needed to complete the ride. “I have taken up cycling more and more as the arthritis in my knees has prevented me from walking fast or long distances without discomfort. I have no trouble with my knees when cycling, unless I have a flare-up.

“On a bike one is ‘in’ the country in a way one is not in a car with a lid over one’s head. Anyhow, I have not got a car. I find that the more I cycle, the more I enjoy it, and also the easier it gets.”

The hardest part of cycling, he said, was the wind, “especially when combined with hills and even more so when there is rain, too. One simply has to battle on. Devon and Cornwall are the worst — the hills are endless.”

Mrs Evans said on Tuesday that her father was “relieved to be out of Devon” after being “absolutely exhausted” cycling through the south-west.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peter­langford85bike.

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