Sidmouth trio cycle Spain for MS research

View over Spain

View over Spain - Credit: Archant

Three intrepid cyclists are today enjoying a well-deserved rest after riding 1,100 miles to help fund multiple sclerosis (MS) research.

Cyclists Jake Cope, James Salter and Steve Hackett

Cyclists Jake Cope, James Salter and Steve Hackett - Credit: Archant

James Salter, Steve Hackett and Jake Cope self-funded their 15-day cycle through Spain, which would see them climb 70,500 feet and rack up 75 hours in the saddle.

They faced temperatures of up to 45 celsius and, downhill, hit speeds of nearly 60mph – sometimes alongside professionals preparing for the Tour de France.

Sidmouth resident James said cycling through the Pyrenees was a highlight, adding: “Looking back, this was one of the best, if not the best day of riding, going downhill at 40mph on perfectly surfaced winding roads after climbing amongst snow-capped peaks.”

But it was also gruelling at times, both on their bodies and their bikes.

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“On day 13, we were wondering how long it would be until we got on our bikes after this,” said James.

“After grand tours of France and Spain, Jake and I were going to call it a day on riding across countries.

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“[Then] we started looking at how we could do Italy to complete the same three grand tours the pros do – turns out we have very short memories when it comes to pain!”

They were followed in a support car by James’ fiancée, Emma Compton. “Some charity rides take out the cost of going, but we funded ourselves, so any money donated goes straight to the MS Society,” said the 30-year-old, who was five when her mum, Carole Swindells, was diagnosed with MS. “We figured we’d be having a good time along the way.”

She added: “My mum is strong, positive and resilient. The balance in our relationship has shifted in recent years, and is not a traditional mother-daughter relationship.

“While we’ve both found this incredibly hard at time, and it’s taken a lot of adjustment, we’ve also had a lot of laughs and a good sense of humour has helped a lot.”

They had hoped to raise £1,000 and have already hit nearly three times that. Visit to take their total even higher.

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