Swindon born and raised Andy Wyeth, has arrived home after completing the challenge of a lifetime – crossing America from coast to coast by bicycle. His gruelling 3,000-mile ride took him just 20 days, often covering over 200 miles a day. Andy took on the ride in memory of his mother who died of myeloma. His efforts have already raised over £15,000 for the blood cancer charity Leukaemia Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital.
Andy cycled alongside his best buddy and rugby team-mate Matt Dowse, who also lost his mother to cancer. They dipped their bike wheels into the ocean in Atlantic City at 11.30pm on 3 August, marking the end of a journey through four different time zones that started less than three weeks earlier in San Diego.
"We encountered massive extremes in temperatures and terrain," explained Andy. "At the start of the ride, we were cycling on the flat Californian Desert in over 120 degrees of heat. After the energy-sapping humidity in the afternoons of the first two days seriously slowed our progress, we decided to change tactics. The next day we got up at 5am, cycled till midday, rested till 4pm and then rode late into the evening. It did help to manage the heat and by the end of the trip, we had acclimatised and it wasn't a factor."
"While the temperature in the mountains was good for riding, the steep climbs were a huge challenge. The scenery was stunning in the Rockies, but I didn't see much of it as my head was down for almost all of the ascents! It was a massive test of my mind and body – averaging somewhere around 7 miles an hour in the mountains isn't much fun."
"We got countless punctures along the way – once we got five in an hour, which was frustrating to say the least! We also suffered from various ailments and medical complaints but De, our doctor, and Pip, our physio, followed us in a camper van along the whole route and gave us amazing support and advice to keep us going."
Andy's mum, Gwyneth, suffered from myeloma, a particularly aggressive blood cancer, and passed away in December 2001, aged 68. Gwyneth, who lived in Lawns, was treated at Princess Margaret's Hospital before she died.
Andy undertook the challenge to raise money for Leukaemia Research, a cause close to his heart. Matt's mum, Pippa, lost a battle with cancer too, and the pair were also raising money for The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where she was cared for until her death in 2005. Andy said: "As we got near to Atlantic City on the last day I thought quite a lot about my mum and what she would have thought about this crazy adventure…She would have been worried like any mum but would have been driving me on through all of it."
Andrew, 40, coaches and Matt, 37, plays for London-based National League 3 rugby team Rosslyn Park. Andrew played for Rosslyn Park when they were in the top flight of English rugby in the early 1990s.
You can still sponsor Andrew and Matt in their fundraising efforts; please visit their websites: www.justgiving.com/usacoast2coast2008 to donate to Leukaemia Research and www.justgiving.com/usac2c2008 to donate to The Royal Marsden Hospital.