IT is a gruelling challenge through one of the hottest parts of the United States that would test even the fittest to the very limit.
But after staring death in the face, the prospect of cycling through Death Valley holds no fears for one intrepid cyclist hoping to raise thousands for charity. George Stewart snr, 74, plans to join his son George jnr, a college worker from the Capital, on a 50-mile ride through Death Valley national park, where temperatures can soar as high as 39 degrees C.
And he’s taking part despite having survived five strokes and undergoing a triple heart bypass just seven years ago.
Son George, 38, who works as a facilities assistant at Edinburgh College’s Granton Campus, views his dad as an inspiration and said he saw no reason why the duo could not finish the test of a lifetime.
The ride starts on the outskirts of Las Vegas and the pair will cycle up to 118 miles a day, climbing to 5550 feet above sea level before completing the mission in Los Angeles.
Death Valley is the hottest and driest area in North America, and George snr will carry a small portable heart monitor for precautionary reasons throughout the challenge.
He had to spend months after his heart operation learning to speak, write and type again, but is now cycling 44 miles every second day to maintain his extraordinary fitness levels and has been cleared to do the ride by doctors.
“At 74 years of age, to do any kind of mileage is just astounding,” his son said. “I’ve seen him in quite a bad state where he’s not been able to move the left side of his body and it’s quite dramatic.
“He’s very, very stubborn. He was out on his bike as soon as he got released from hospital.”
The ride has been organised to raise money for the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s, with the two fundraisers aiming to hit £6000.
George jnr has been regularly riding from his home in Corstorphine to visit his father in Loch Lomond – an 86-mile trip – in the space of a day to prepare.
He said the only hurdle the pair could not train for while still in Scotland was the heat.
“I’ve never seen a hill we can’t walk up,” he said. “The heat is the only thing that’s really worrying me and the humidity being zero.”
The one luxury the pair will afford themselves is a good night’s sleep, having booked to stay in hotels at the end of each day. To find out how to support the pair, call 07718 229530 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.