Cyclist completes Land's End to John O' Groats ride to inspire others with disease
PUBLISHED: 18:04 29 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 30 September 2019
A Portishead cyclist has ridden the length of Britain unsupported to raise awareness for an illness he has battled for a decade.
Tony Walmsley rode more than 900 miles from Land's End in Corwall to John o' Groats in the Scottish Highlands in 12 days.
He raised thousands of pounds in the process for Bristol, Bath and North somerset Network of Crohn's & Colitis UK.
Tony was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 10 years ago and he was keen to inspire newly-diagnosed patients that the chronic illness does not mean you cannot still be active.
He said: "There were a few roads, such as the A30 and A38, which were difficult because of a lot of traffic and HGVs."
He said cycling through the Wye Valley and Lake District were two highlights as the sun lit up the 'idyllic' surroundings.
But it was not all plain sailing. As Tony was unsupported he had to carry out repairs to his bike, including fixing loose wheel bearings and replacing a broken spoke which was damaged near Preston.
And he battled the remnants of hurricanes which hit America, before finishing his challenge on September 12.
He said: "When you have to start pedalling downhill to get up speed, you know it is windy."
Tony five years ago cycled with a friend from Portishead to Paris in two days.
He said: "Doing that, I thought it would be good to do Land's End to John o' Groats as it's such an iconic route.
"I originally did it as a personal challenge but was keen to help show people who have been diagnosed that you can still do things. I want it to be an inspiration for lots of people."
Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition and Tony says medication has kept his illness under control. But, in the lead up to the challenge, he suffered a couple of flare ups and had to have his medication increased.
Tony, aged 55, is 'bowled over' by the support he has received from friends, family and strangers in donating money to the charity he used to be the lead volunteer for.
He has managed to raise more than £2,400 so far.
Crohn's & Colitis UK has 50 networks nationwide and seeks to raise awareness about the two inflammatory bowel diseases and works with hospitals.
To donate to the appeal, log on to www.virginmoneygiving.com