Cyclist hits heights in 450-mile Pyrenees route

Gavin Stewart completed the Pyrenean Raid within 100 hours to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Picture: contributed
Gavin Stewart completed the Pyrenean Raid within 100 hours to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Picture: contributed
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More people have scaled Mount Everest than completed this mammoth challenge.

But that daunting fact did not stop keen cyclist Gavin Stewart getting on his bike for the Pyrenean Raid cycling route.

And 450 miles, a fierce thunderstorm and seven wasp stings later, he has completed the route which stretches along the Pyrenees from the French Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts – and all within 100 hours.

Gavin, 48, set off on the challenge – which has been completed by only 3000 people since its inception – to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, where his wife Aileen works as a 
corporate fundraiser.

Gavin said: “This is far and away the toughest cycling challenge I’ve ever done – it’s one of the must-do rides for any cycling enthusiast and it’s truly an epic. The route across the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean was established in 1950 keeping as close to the Spanish border as possible on surfaced roads, not surprisingly this takes in most of the big challenges en route.

“Then, as if this was not hard enough the organisers introduced the rule that the route had to be completed within 100 hours.”

Along the way, Gavin tackled four of the toughest Tour de France mountain stages back to back with an overall height gain of more than four times the ascent of Everest from south base camp. He set off on the journey on Monday, June 3 and finished on Friday, June 7.

Gavin, who decided to take on the route after he was made redundant from his job at Lloyds TSB, was accompanied by his wife, Aileen. He said: “I did a lot of training before hand, I was pretty nervous but by the first day things were going OK, but it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.

“I received tremendous support from Aileen, who also generously helped other 
cyclists along the way.

“On one such occasion she even ferried a stranded cyclist down a mountain then drove a 100km detour to their support crew because the others were still stranded at the top of the mountain. That selfless approach is indicative of the work Macmillan do for individuals and their families who are living with cancer.” He added: “I’ve decided to use the completion of the Raid cycle challenge to raise some money for them. Despite being integral to the medical, financial, practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer all across the UK, Macmillan is almost 100 per cent funded from charitable donations.”

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