AN EPIC fundraising cycle ride to the World Cup in Russia ended for Mike Tomlinson when he crashed and was left seriously injured.
The husband of the late inspirational Jane Tomlinson CBE, of Rothwell, teamed up with Premier League referee Martin Atkinson to cycle nearly 1,800 miles from the UK to Russia within 18 days.
They set off from St George’s Park National Football Centre in Staffordshire on June 11 and aimed to arrive in Kaliningrad by Thursday (June 28), when the city hosts England’s match against Belgium.
They were waved off by England boss Gareth Southgate, the day before the England squad flew out.
Martin Atkinson and Jane Tomlinson Appeal supporter Darren Clark were due to arrive at Kaliningrad Stadium on Wednesday (June 27) afternoon.
But Mike’s Whistlestop Tour ended on Monday (June 25) when he crashed just 150 miles short.
Mike, who suffered whiplash, cuts, bruises, a blood clot and a bang to the head, said: “I crashed after 18 miles, carried on for another 13, until my hip ballooned to the size of a melon.
“I spent hours with the physio, trying to get the swelling down in the futile hope of continuing, before realising I really needed to go to hospital.
“In a heartbeat the challenge was over. Absolutely gutted I won’t get to the World Cup and to finish the challenge, but it could have been so much worse.”
Martin Atkinson, of Drighlington, said: “Mike got back up and rode for another 13 miles before the pain became unbearable.
“It shows what the challenge is all about, though – digging in and just trying to raising as much as we can. The fact that he got back up and on with those injuries is a testament to Mike, and to Jane’s legacy.”
The cyclists have taken in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Poland before arriving in Kaliningrad.
They want to raise £60,000 for four causes: The Jane Tomlinson Appeal, Yorkshire Young Achievers, St David’s Hospice Care in Newport and the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Charity.
Go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/WhistleStopTour2018 or text WHISTLE5 to 70500 to give £5 by text giving.