Cyclist rides across Europe for reunion

Andy Smallwood as a youngster
Andy Smallwood as a youngster

A FORMER Headlands School Pupil is cycling 1,500 miles from Portugal to Bridlington to attend a 30-year reunion with his former classmates and raising money for chairty in the process.

Andrew Smallwood, 45, left Headlands in 1982 but lived in Bridlington until 1986 when he joined the RAF before emigrating to Portugal in 2008.

He is planning to cycle from his current home in Lousã in central Portugal, all the way to Bridlington, with just his bike, a sleeping-bag and a tent for company.

Smallwood intends to cycle 60 miles per day for 25 consecutive days for PLAN UK, a charity which helps provide healthcare and education for communities of children in some of the world’s poorest countries.

He said: “I had an invite on Facebook to a Headlands Class of ‘82 School Reunion and just said to my wife, ‘I’ll cycle to that!’.

“My ride will be through Portugal, Spain and France before I take a ferry across the Channel and then continue cycling to Bridlington.

“I’ll be totally alone with no back-up, no internet, no GPS, no doctor or physio to help me out and I will be travelling on a simple Dawes hybrid bike.

“I will have no cooking equipment, so it’s just me, my bike, a tent and a sleeping bag.

“I won’t be staying in hotels as I want to keep costs right down, so I will be either using campsites, simply putting up my tent in the wild or seeking out kind-hearted people who will let me camp on their land.

“ The trip will be 1500 miles long and I am looking to cover 100km/60 miles everyday minimum with no rest days, so it should take me 25 days to reach Brid.

“I have been training since November by cycling up and down the hills where I live.

“I am training completely alone so I have nobody to talk to and nobody but me to motivate myself.”

Smallwood, who has only visited Bridlington once since emigrating, is happy to be returning to his hometwon and is excited by the prospect of his journey, despite it’s challenging nature.

He added: “I absolutely cannot wait to set off. Most of my family still live in Bridlington and although I used to come back two or three times a year before I left the service, I’ve only been back once since I moved to Portugal.

“Everyday will be a new adventure, new towns and villages, new people to meet on the way, new roads, different landscapes, not knowing from one day to the next whether I’ll be staying at a campsite or camping in the wild, and enjoying the freedom that the open road gives me.

“However, the most important part of this trip is to raise the £2000 target in sponsorship that I set myself for PLAN UK, which helps the communities of the world’s poorest children to build better, sustainable lives.

“I am also a personal trainer and I want to show, by example, the importance of exercise and staying fit in enjoying a healthy life, and that it is not a chore, but a privilege.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring Andrew can do so via the following link :http://www.justgiving.com/Andy-Smallwood