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Old Burghclere adventurer raises thousands in epic lifeboat cycle

THIRTY-FOUR days is all it took for Old Burghclere adventurer Harry Lidgley to cycle around the coastline of Great Britain, visiting all 168 lifeboat stations on the way.

Mr Lidgley, 23, set off from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) headquarters in Poole on May 1, heading southwest and into Cornwall in “unseasonably cold” weather, before heading through a rainy Wales and into northwest England.

He then crossed the border into Scotland, taking in the stunning sights of Oban and Skye, and then rounded the northern tip of the country at John O’Groats, before riding down the mostly flat east coast.

Harry Lidgley (47984368)
Harry Lidgley (47984368)

He journeyed through Suffolk and Kent before returning back to Poole, triumphant on June 4 after a gruelling 7,000km journey.

As well as the personal satisfaction of completing his challenge, Mr Lidgley – who has set his sights on a career as a professional endurance and adventure athlete – has also raised around £7,000 for the RNLI, which, he said, will put three or four new crew members through training.

Speaking on his emotions after the ride, Mr Lidgley said: “It’s a mix, it’s all been a blur.

Harry Lidgley (47984374)
Harry Lidgley (47984374)

“It’s ultimately satisfaction that I pulled off the expedition in a way that I wanted to.

“I beat the target [42 days], I beat the fundraising target [£5,000], everything went according to plan and I thought I posted a pretty good time, getting round in 34 days, which everyone seems impressed with, which is nice.”

Mr Lidgley slept under a small tarpaulin and only carried a bivvy bag to go as lightweight as possible, living off freeze-dried ration meals and fruit and snacks to hit about 6,000 calories a day.

It wasn’t all smooth-riding however.

Harry Lidgley (47984372)
Harry Lidgley (47984372)

In Mull of Kintyre, on the tip of the Kintyre Peninsula, Mr Lidgley had “a bit of a nightmare” when two of the spokes on his rear wheel broke through the rim, rendering the wheel a write-off.

Mr Lidgley continued: “I thought I was in a bit of a pickle, but miraculously a lovely guy called Robbie in the next village along happened to have a spare rear wheel that fitted, with the right number of gears.

“He was such a super guy, and helped me fit that on and sent me on my merry way.

Harry Lidgley (47984364)
Harry Lidgley (47984364)

“It was an unbelievable stroke of fortune, and that’s the kind of kindness that I encountered quite a lot.”

This endurance feat was the latest in Mr Lidgley’s quest to push his limits, after being part of a team that rowed around Britain last summer.

He said his previous endurance experience had allowed him to keep focused, when you have to “grit your teeth” to get the job done.

He added: “I think it’s hard, especially when you’re by yourself, to put yourself through uncomfortable situations.

“At times you feel slightly on edge, especially when things go wrong – like your rear wheel breaking down on the Mull of Kintyre – you’ve got to remain calm and work out your options.

“There were days where you’ve really got to grit your teeth, and that’s when your mental resolve becomes such a big player.

“That’s where you draw on experience of going through difficult situations before, and it all feeds in to future challenges I take on.”

There is still time to donate to Mr Lidgley’s cause.

To do so, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gblifeboatcycle

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