Kayaker and cyclist plans mammoth challenge from Devon to Watton for charities

Cyclist and kayaker Richard Brooks is taking on two sporting challenges for charity, rasing money fo

Cyclist and kayaker Richard Brooks is taking on two sporting challenges for charity, rasing money for Macmillan Cancer Support and the SImpsons Memory Box Appeal. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A Necton sports enthusiast is pushing himself to the limit in his kayak and on his bicycle in memory of his best friend.

A Necton sports enthusiast is pushing himself to the limit in his kayak and on his bicycle in memory of his best friend.

Keen paddler and mountain biker Richard Brooks is undertaking two gruelling challenges this month taking him from Devon to Norfolk.

He will paddle 7km loops along a Dartmoor river for 24 hours – then immediately cycle 300 miles back to Watton.

He hopes to complete the feat in just over 48 hours, setting off at 11am on February 19 and hoping to finish by 2pm on February 21.

The 36-year-old is undertaking his 'Man vs Hell' challenge in memory of his best friend Matthew, who died from leukaemia in September last year, shortly after Richard and his partner Emmaline lost their unborn child.

Of his momentous feat, Richard said: 'I wanted to make it hard because I know what they went through.

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'My other half had to go through a lot with our baby and it was tough for her, and it was the same for Matt. He had to go to hospital for chemotherapy which was hard for him.

'I wanted to replicate that, to push my limits and make it hard for me.

'My partner thinks I'm crazy. She's not really an outdoor person.

'She respects it, but thinks there are easier things to do. But for me that wouldn't be as rewarding.'

Richard will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Simpsons Memory Box Appeal (SiMBA), which gives memory boxes to parents who have lost unborn babies.

He first completed a charity paddling challenge on the Upper Dart Loop around five years ago after his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

This time, he will make the journey to Devon with around 20 friends, who will take shifts watching him while he paddles the loop and ride parts of his cycling route with him.

'All my friends are proud of me,' he said. 'Without them I couldn't have done it so it's good they're getting involved. It's a team effort really.'

Richard hopes to complete the cycling part of his challenge in around 24 hours, which will mean managing an average speed of around 12.5mph.

'Obviously I will have to stop to eat and refuel, but I'm hoping to make it up on the downhill parts,' he added.

'We chose the river because it is very accessible. My friends haven't been paddling for the last few years but we know this river well.'

Richard has long been interested in mountain biking, but said his road cycling challenge was a 'salute' to his late best friend.

'I wanted to do a cycling part because Matthew and me got into paddling together, and he was the one who got me into road biking. This is a salute to him,' he said.

Richard added that he hopes members of Velo Watton, with whom he regularly cycles, will be riding the last few miles into the town with him.

Find out more about Richard's challenge at chasinggravity.wordpress.co/charity-challenge or donate to him at www.justgiving.com/Richard-Brooks15

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