NEWTON Stewart born and bred RAF airman Alan Johnstone recently completed a gruelling charity cycle from John O’ Groats to Land’s End raising £27,000 to be split 50/50 between Help for Heroes and Rafa - The Royal Air Force Association.
During the 11-day trip, the 15-strong team, consisting of airmen and aircrew mainly from RAF 99 Squadron, cycled 1012 miles and climbed 42,000 feet.
The route took them through Tain, Fort William, Alexandria, St John’s Town of Dalry, Keswick, Windermere, Llangollen, Monmouth, Exeter, Truro and finally, Land’s End.
Twenty-six-year-old Alan, who is based at RAF Leuchars said : “Day four and day ten were the worst days because the weather was terrible with the wind and rain in our faces and I had absolutely no energy. On day ten, because we climbed 9000 feet, which is the height of two Ben Nevis’s, everyone was really tired especially as it was the penultimate day.
“The best thing about the trip was seeing all the scenery in Scotland - Loch Ness, Glen Coe and through Loch Lomond - and also the achievement of actually completing the trip. As I’d have hated to have came back and said I didn’t manage to complete it.
“As a non-cyclist ten months ago and having not done that much training to manage to complete the cycle was obviously very difficult and a few times I had to dig very deep to get through the harder days. It’s a massive personal achievement for myself and probably the hardest thing I’ll ever do physically and mentally. To get up every morning with legs like lead was hard as my body was telling me “not again”! It’s done now though, and if I don’t see a bike again I won’t be too bothered!
“I’d like to thank everyone in the area that sponsored me and family and friends that provided support with special thanks to Laura’s Gift shop, the Cree Inn and Newton Stewart Hospital in helping to raise £27,000 hopefully rising to £30,000 by the end of the month.
“For me it’s awesome that we have raised so much but the target is to raise £30,000 so when we get there I’ll be a lot happier. Seeing some of the guys coming back from Afghanistan in a bad way is harrowing but hopefully the money that we have raised will help towards those that have been injured or the families that have been less fortunate and have lost a loved one in the conflict.”
There is still time to sponsor at www.virginmoneygiving.com/99sqncycleteam