150 to go! – a Doncaster doctor is racking up the miles as he counts down the days to the start of one of the most gruelling challenges of his life.
Dr David Crichton has signed up for one of UK cycling’s biggest endurance tests, the Deloitte Ride Across Britain.
In 150 days – Saturday 8 September – he will set out to cover the 969 miles from Land’s End to John O’ Groats on two narrow wheels in just nine days. He’ll join 800 elite and novice cyclists in pedalling his through 23 counties and three countries at an average of 110 energy-sapping miles a day.
Dr Crichton, 47, who is a GP at Bentley Surgery and Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, will ride the event to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK, in memory of two Scottish grandparents who both died from the disease.
He said: “Cycling has been a big part of my life from an early age as my parents didn’t drive, so getting on my bike was how I got to school and gave me some freedom.
“My grandad, George Laing lived in Fife and worked for many years down the local mines before he, sadly, died of stomach cancer. He, along with one of my uncles and cousins, used to help organise and compete in cycling events at the local Highland Games around Scotland, so riding a bike is in my genes.
“Grandad George and his wife, Euphemia – who also later died of cancer of the gullet – have been my motivation in wanting to compete in the event and raise money towards trying to find a cure for all cancers. I’m sure that thinking about them on the route will keep me going through the tough periods.”
As he ticks of the days to September, Dr Crichton has been fitting in long distance training sessions around his work and family commitments, including completing his first 100 miler in seven hours from his York home last weekend.
Being a doctor he understands the need to manage his energy and hydration levels closely, as he burns off around 3,000 calories for every 100 miles he cycles – compared to the average adult burning off 2,000 – 2,500 calories every 24 hours.
A former Major in the army, where he served as a medical officer in the Parachute Regiment after qualifying as a Doctor, Dr Crichton will be able to call on his experience of enduring tough military tasks to help keep him going over the nine muscle-sapping days of the ride.
“The mental aspect is just as important as the physical element”, he said. “But overcoming physical exhaustion and preventing saddle sores is my biggest challenge, the effort required will be like running a full 26 miles long marathon every day for nine consecutive days”.
“The route is fully supported, with chaperones, regular pit stops, medical and mechanical support, base camps and overnight camping facilities. Riders also get a massage every couple of days, which will be very useful.
“I’ll have to manage any common cycling problems, such as repairing any punctures, but the back-up team will help out if it’s anything more serious”.
There will be 5.30 am wakeup call and an expectation of being in the saddle for 10 hours on the longest day, as the route winds its way from Land’s End through Bath, Shropshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Glasgow, Fort William, and Inverness before finishing at John O’ Groats.
Dr Crichton is keen to raise as much as he can for Cancer Research UK and colleagues, friends and family are rallying round to lend their support, including Mum, Isobel and Dad, Dave who are organising events at their local working men’s club at Carlton, near Leeds.
His partner, Dr Vanessa Barrett, who works at a GP practice in York, started the ball rolling with a donation and his son, James, has been cycling alongside on training sessions.
You can hear from Dr Crichton on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3xd_s6TRRI and if you would like to donate on-line to support Cancer Research UK please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-crichton2