A dedicated team of fundraisers cycling to Rio in memory of the late Jane Tomlinson has conquered the first leg of its journey.
The hardy group, which includes Jane’s husband Mike, has now cycled across Europe and are on their way to Brazil for the next stage of the near-3,000 mile challenge.
Mr Tomlinson, joined by TV presenter Charlie Webster and ex-Rugby League star Paul Highton, have clocked up a staggering 1,123 miles from London to Lisbon over 17 days. But, he said, however much the team had achieved, it still paled in comparison with Jane’s efforts.
“Jane was incredibly unwell when she cycled across America,” he said. “Every day, despite being so poorly, being physically sick and unable to eat, she would get back on that bike. How she did it I will never understand. This trip has been tiring, exhausting at times, but I could never even begin to imagine what Jane went through.
“I could not have done one per cent of what Jane achieved.”
The cyclists now face the toughest part of their challenge – a further 1,600 miles across Brazil, to finish in Rio de Janeiro, in just 20 days.
They will be joined in the saddle by former Leeds Rhinos star Keith Senior for this last leg.
The epic challenge comes exactly 10 years after the late amateur athlete Jane Tomlinson CBE embarked on her 4,200 mile ride across America.
Mr Tomlinson said team camaraderie has kept the group going over the last two and a half weeks, adding: “There have been a few days where we’ve had difficult hill ranges with short and sharp turns, and other days with just very long, very straight roads.”
Fellow road users in France, Spain and, to an extent, Portugal, had been welcoming and considerate to the cyclists, he said. But what awaited them in Brazil was uncertain.
“First we have to get the bikes to Brazil – hopefully we get them there on the plane in one piece and they still work!” he said. “What the roads and traffic will be like is anyone’s guess. We don’t really know what awaits us and how people will react. Hopefully, we’ll be something of a novelty and they’ll make allowances for us.”