Hi All Kathleen here,

First day completed of our drive to the start of Arctic to Africa Phase 2. After being rudely awoken numerous times by the wonderful ferry tannoy announcements we headed off in glorious sunshine. The day just got hotter and hotter. We are all now relaxing and enjoying a cold beer. As these first few days are taken up with driving we thought it was the perfect opportunity for you to get to know our 3 cyclists so tonight we head to our Arctic to Africa correspondent in Germany – Nansed Clamtrap who interviewed our very own Sean McPartland.

Sean – Harrogate born and bred and then moved out to Birstwith in 2007. Married to Kathleen for 27 years with two children Jonathon and Kayleigh. This madcap challenge was Sean’s fault apparently.

So we asked Sean what got him into cycling?

“Well it all started about 12 years ago. I was doing a bit of off road cycling with my pal David when we came up with the idea to cycle the coast to coast from Whitehaven to Sunderland. Four of us did the ride, David, Jonathon who was 12 years old at the time, my Uncle Andy and myself. It was a great and eventful trip but that’s another story for around a camp fire”.

That is great, but how did this develop into what you are doing now?

“A couple of years later we moved to Birstwith. After a few months once we met the crazy Birstwith possie and near the end of a boozy Friday night I was chatting to Birstwith’s one and only Amy Holmes about our first Coast to Coast and came up with the idea of doing it again and getting a few of the other villagers to join in. That we did! Mountain bikes were popping up everywhere, there were regular training rides and the group just got bigger and bigger. In the end there was a group of 22 cyclists and about the same back-up who did the trip. Again there was many a tale to be told from that trip! What we also did on this trip is bring in the charity element and in the end we raised over £12,500 for worthy causes including St Michaels hospice and Cancer Research”.

Great causes and a huge amount to raise! These events were on mountain bikes, what made you move into road bikes?

By this time I had the bug. Again after a few beers at the station, I came up with what at the time I thought was going to be the pinnacle of my challenges. Birstwith to Rome! A change of bikes now we were on road bikes. This wasn’t going to be easy and it took some planning. There were four riders, Dave again, Paul (one of Jonathon’s school friends), and Heather with a backup crew of Kathleen, Jonny, Kayleigh and Dan. We completed the 1400 mile ride in 2 weeks and were greeted at the end by a group of friends from Birstwith when we arrived at the Colosseum. That year we raised £13,700 for Yorkshire air ambulance”.

Wow you really raised the bar there. Why then Arctic to Africa?

“It had been 5 years since the Rome trip and we were ready for a new challenge. How could we beat the Rome trip? Cycle round the world??? I wish! We all have jobs, we couldn’t just drop everything and go cycling for a year. We had to come up with something else. Top of Europe to the bottom was an initial thought. Had it been done before? We believe it probably has but we couldn’t see much in the internet about it. Then it came to us Arctic to Africa! From Nordkapp to Casablanca. Yes we don’t think it has been done before”.

Why Casablanca?

“Why not? And there was a film about it so it sounded a great place to complete the ride”.

You are completing it in three phases why not all at once?

“We would have loved to do it in one go, but as I have said earlier we all have jobs and getting the time off would have been unreasonable. Then there is the back up as well. The other reason was down to the fundraising as we thought spreading it over three years would create more exposure and raise more money for the charity”.

Yes, you are doing it for charity again, tell us more about the charity?

“Yes, we wanted to use the opportunity to raise money for charity. We choose Alzheimer’s Research UK following the passing of my father in law Eric who suffered from the disease. To date we have raised over £13,000”.

You are also involved in another ride can you tell us about it?

“The Great Nidd Bike Ride is a mass participation ride around Nidderdale. Starting at The Station Hotel in Birstwith it is a 50 or 68 mile ride through some of the most stunning countryside in Yorkshire. Last year was the inaugural ride where 70 riders joined up and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I am proposing to run it for 10 years building it up every year and hopefully raising plenty of funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK”.

There you have it the story behind the Arctic to Africa challenge from Sean’s perspective. We look forward to seeing how he and the rest of the team get on over the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow we interview Dave and see why he joins in these mad capers.

It seems appropriate that the sponsor assigned to Sean would be The Station Hotel Birstwith!!!

Arctic to Africa correspondent in Germany Nansed Clamtrap