THEY finally made it. After 26 days in the saddle, on a journey that crossed three countries, the ‘two blokes on their two bikes’ – showing no signs of fatigue – powered up the final hill in Benalmadena to finish their 2,000 mile charity cycle outside the offices of EWN at lunchtime on Friday, October 17.
Paul Kearns and Steven Tindall – who set off from Baildon, Bradford, 26 days ago – were overwhelmed with emotion as they dismounted their bicycles for the final time. The mechanic and the pub landlord raised over £10,000 (€12,500) for two charities – Tomas Leighton Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer – through their extraordinary feat.
Their journey would see them get lost in Barcelona and infiltrate an Iron Man competition near Alicante. And surprisingly, they didn’t get one puncture between them in 2,000 miles.
“We’re two minutes late,” joked Paul as he got off his bicycle and embraced his family. The ‘From Rain to Spain’ epic challenge was over and a Champagne reception outside the offices of EWN – one of the ‘From Rain to Spain’ sponsors – was held for the two amateur cyclists who had just finished a cycle nearly as long as the Tour de France.
Around 40 friends, family and well-wishers – most of whom had travelled from the UK especially to greet the pair – were on hand to congratulate Paul, aged 47, and Steve, aged 55, at the end of their incredible journey.
“It’s been an unforgettable experience and one we’ll never forget as long as we’re alive,” said Paul. “It was tough going and at times it was very difficult and testing, but we’ve made it and enjoyed it along the way. Everybody we met along the way, from the UK to the south of Spain, has been so great.”
Paul explained that, at times, obstacles would arise and they needed to improvise in order to continue on their way.
“We came across this road that was closed for about 50 kilometres,” said Paul. It turned out there was an Iron Man competition on and we couldn’t use the road. So we just joined the rest of the cyclists and pretended that we were competitors. I’m sure we were winning at one stage. When they got to the point where they had to turn around and go back, we just kept going through the barriers and continued on our way. We got some funny looks.”
Steven explained that in Barcelona they were turned back by the police when they tried to join a motorway. “Push bikes aren’t allowed on the motorways so we asked how to get out of Barcelona and they told us to go back the way we’d come and turn left,” he said. “So we did that, then went left again and around half an hour later we ended up right back where we started in front of the police. We must have cycled Las Ramblas about four times trying to find our way out.”
Trailed by their support drivers Stewart Metcalfe and David Pickles in a camper van, the ‘From Rain to Spain’ tour made its way down into Andalucia before finally ending in the hot Benalmadena sunshine. Nine-year-old Tomas Leighton – who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, cortical blindness and learning disabilities – was on the scene to greet his two heroes after powering their bikes through three countries to raise money for his cause. Tomas’s father John said: “This is so touching and wonderful. This group of 40 have flown over from England especially for this and we’re so grateful. Paul owns a pub, the Bulls Head in Baildon, but he won’t have any customers this weekend because they’re all here!”
The two cyclists plan to rest and recuperate for a few days in Spain before heading back to the UK. “We won’t be doing much cycling this week,” they joked. “The highlight of our trip was coming out of Granada and when we got to the top of a mountain,” said Paul. “I saw a sign that said it was downhill for seven miles and we were like schoolboys zig-zagging down the mountain. We over took the camper a few times too. It was such a relief after the hard slog.”
While both men are regular cyclists – they have done the Lands’ End to John O’Groats route before – they have no immediate plans for another cycling adventure. “We’ll take a break for a while I think,” said Steven. “We’re just delighted to have done it and raised so much for charity.”
For more information on the Tomas Leighton Charity please visit their website http://www.tlc-charity.com/