Reporter 448, 6 March 2000

In the saddle for charity

‘Born again’ cyclist John Armstrong is recovering from a gruelling ride across India.

On the road - John Armstrong

After 30 years off his bike, the 51-year-old computer systems administrator, who works at the University's Leukaemia Research Fund Centre, decided to take to the pedals as part of a nationwide bid to bring in cash for charity Whizz-Kidz, which aids children with mobility problems.

"I am a fairly regular visitor to India but the last time I had a bike was as a small boy. I decided to rise to the challenge and put in lots of training.

"It was just as challenging as I had expected. The cycling was not particularly difficult as it was over ‘undulating’ terrain, but it became a relentless slog under a hot sun with the ever-present danger of dehydration. I quickly learned the art of cycling one-handed and attempting to drink from my water bottle at the same time."

John, who biked the 341 kilometres from Jaipur to Agra, learned to cope with traffic hazards unimaginable in the UK.

"Sometimes roads were non-existent. We found ourselves trying to cycle through holes filled with unimaginably disgusting water. This made for slow progress, fraught with danger when added to by buses and lorries crowding in on all sides."

After five long days, with nights spent camping out under the stars, the 41-strong band of cyclists reached their destination - the Taj Mahal gates. John hopes to raise at least £2,500 and people with outstanding cash pledges should contact him at the LRF centre.

Also taking on a huge challenge to support the charity is Karen Donnelly, from the School of Continuing Education. This November, course secretary and part-time student Karen will be trekking for six days in the foothills of the Himalayas. She has pledged to raise £3,000, and anyone wishing to help her reach that goal can contact her on 233 3248 or email

Staff and students at Trinity and All Saints are in the throes of a virtual trek from Leeds to the Congo - clocking up an awesome distance of 5,313 miles - as part of their £100,000 Millennium Appeal. They may not be packing their bags but so far have ‘travelled’ an impressive 801 miles towards their destination thanks to people taking to the treadmill, swimming pool, or their bikes to help reach the goal.

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