Cross-Britain cyclist’s wheels of fortune

August 28, 2008

After a golden week for British cyclists in Beijing, 18-year-old Nathaniel Harris has been a charitable winner, completing a Lands End to John O'Groats cycle.

Riding in support of Zaka - which coordinates the volunteer response to emergencies in Israel - the Edgware teenager was in the saddle for 12 days, existing on a diet of pot noodles, avocados, bananas and chocolate. He rested only on Shabbat, "somewhere south of the Yorkshire Dales".

He celebrated his birthday en route, with his mother Larraine bringing him a birthday cake and extra food supplies.

"The first two days were tough," Nathaniel said. "But once I got used to the routine and pace, I really enjoyed the challenge." His family spoke to him daily, offering encouragement and logistical support - including finding accommodation in B&Bs along the way.

Although Edinburgh was a problem because of the festival, "in the end, my mother found me accommodation with family friends, who also helped fix two broken spokes on my bike."

Another stroke of fortune was chancing upon a bicycle shop after noticing a problem with the gears. "Apparently the back wheel was incorrectly fixed and could have fallen off at any time."

The former JFS pupil ended the ride seven pounds lighter, but £3,000 richer, which will go towards a Zaka emergency first-aid station in Sderot.

Last updated: 12:05pm, September 2 2008