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Hampstead great grandfather, 89, to cycle Land’s End to John O’Groats

PUBLISHED: 09:34 10 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 10 August 2017

Hampstead great-grandfather, Norman Franklin, aged 89, will start cycling his electric bicycle from Land’'s End to John O’Groats next week.  Picture: Anne Bulmer

Hampstead great-grandfather, Norman Franklin, aged 89, will start cycling his electric bicycle from Land’'s End to John O’Groats next week. Picture: Anne Bulmer

Archant

An 89-year-old great grandfather is preparing to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats - without any fear of saddle sores.

Norman Franklin, who lives in Elsworthy Road, will begin the epic journey next week in the belief he may be the oldest person ever to attempt what cyclists call the ‘end to end’, taking him from the south-western tip of England to the north-eastern tip of Scotland.

The retired publisher, who would cycle from his Hampstead home to the City on his daily commute during his 40 year career, will be joined on the 1,000 mile ride by his three sons and two of their wives.

Norman, who also abseiled down Guy’s Hospital for charity when he was 79, said: “I probably am a bit on the old side, but I always like to rise to a challenge and everyone has been most encouraging, when they haven’t been too surprised.”

As part of the preparation for the ride, starting on Sunday, oldest son Andrew and his wife Caroline have been training with the octogenarian, a regular gym-goer, by cycling up Highgate West Hill and to Whitestone Pond.

Andrew said: “The distances aren’t huge and the bus fumes are a nuisance, but they are tough climbs and although we expect longer slogs in Scotland we hope there won’t be anything steeper.”

The family, who aim to clock up between 50 to 80 miles per day mostly along national cycle network routes, aim to raise £100,000 for four charities including Beanstalk – a literacy charity putting volunteers into primary schools to help slow readers learn to read – and the Prisoners’ Education Trust which helps prisoners learn skills to reduce their risk of reoffending.

“I am now really confident that we are going to reach our target, particularly as my sons and I are matching every donation we get pound for pound to help us reach our target,” Norman said.

“Everyone knows exercise is the best thing older people can do, so I am taking that seriously. People have been fantastically generous,” he added.

Asked what the worst thing about the journey might be, Norman said: “Everyone says saddle sore is something you have to worry about on a ride of this length, but I am hoping your skin gets tougher as you get older.

“And I have just had my bike serviced so I am hoping I won’t have any punctures or breakdowns. It would be nice if it doesn’t rain too much either.”

To support Norman visit le-jog

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