Corfu charity cyclist hits trouble

John Wilson outside the British Heart Foundation HQ in Burnley before his journey.
John Wilson outside the British Heart Foundation HQ in Burnley before his journey.

A cyclist is determined to continue with a 2,000 mile charity bike ride from Burnley to Corfu despite being beset by thefts, problems with his bike and suffering from heat exhaustion.

John Wilson (55), from Ightenhill, started the gruelling challenge on June 22nd in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

However, the tough journey has been made a lot tougher.

Firstly, a floral wreath which John had planned to lay on the grave of his wife’s uncle was stolen from his bike while he was on the ferry between England and France.

Then he had an issue with the spokes on his rear wheel which caused him to keep stopping.

And, most recently, John was the victim of a second theft when his helmet, with a camera attached, was stolen while he was at a train station.

But John’s wife Shirley says he is still going on despite the setbacks and will now be in

Italy after going over St Gotardo Pass in the Alps.

“He’s been plagued with bad luck but he’s romping ahead with more confidence now. He’s met other foreign cyclists on his travels who have been friendly and very helpful to him.

“As well as the issues with his bike he’s had to deal with the very high temperatures we’ve had in recent weeks which has been unbearable at times, however it has cooled down now fortunately.”

The unfortunate incident with the helmet happened when John arrived in Lucerne in Switzerland and took his helmet off for a breather and rested it on the back of his bike.

Less than a minute later it was stolen, along with the attached camera, by a group of backpackers who immediately boarded a train which departed straight away.

Shirley added: “The helmet is not a problem but the worse part was his GoPro camera was stolen with it and that was loaned to him from Accrington and Rossendale College.

“The students from the college were filming the journey so they could make a film to show at a festival later in the year.

“As for the wreath, he still stopped off at the cemetery in Caudry despite the wreath he was carrying to lay at my uncle’s grave was stolen.

“Unfortunately there was nothing he could do at the time because everyone was quickly ushered off the ferry and he didn’t see anyone who he could complain to.”

Despite all the setbacks, John has just completed the most demanding part of his journey, a 7,000 ft climb over the Alps before coming down the other side of the mountain range in Milan.

Now he will cycle through Italy before catching another ferry to Corfu where he will bike over more mountains and will finally complete the journey in the beach resort of Arillas.

John, who is a full-time student at Accrington and Rossendale College, embarked on the journey on June 22nd which was expected to take 34 days, meaning he is due to arrive in Arillas on July 26th.

He decided to raise money for the charity after suffering a heart attack in 2012.

Afterwards he went into a deep depression but he says the British Heart Foundation helped him through this time, and he felt that he wanted to give something back.

Anyone who is interested in donating can do so by visiting John’s website at www.burnleyretredz.co.uk or by visiting his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/btredz.