Published: 06:00, 11 March 2021
Lockdown forced adventurer Ken Allen indoors but it couldn’t stop his appetite for a challenge.
Allen has led groups on cycle trips from London to Paris over 100 times but with the borders closed he chose to make the ride a virtual one - helping raise £1,000 for Demelza Hospice in the process.
The Borden resident, who would usually be working as a personal trainer, said: “I have led people on many trips to raise money but when the gyms closed I started doing a bit of spinning in the front room.
“It is so much harder doing it inside, there is nothing to look at apart from the picture on the wall of my grandmother and I have even missed the comments coming from ‘white van man’.
“The good thing is I managed to lose 16lb in weight and that needed to come off so it hasn’t been a bad thing. I went on Facebook and said I needed donations to get to Paris and quickly managed to raise £1,000.
“I’ve ridden London to Paris 104 times and this is the first time I have done it like this, the one and only time! It’s not like being out on the road, which would normally be quicker.
“When leading a group I would normally stop them just before the Eiffel Tower, pick up the cheapest bottle of fizzy wine and once we complete the trip we would spray it around. The feeling would be euphoric.
“The looks on people’s faces when they complete the ride never leaves me. There are people crying, in pain, but delighted with what they have achieved.
“When I finished my virtual ride my wife Sue brought me in a cup of tea and asked me to wipe the sweat off the floor! Not quite the same.”
Allen had planned to take part in a ride that took in four countries in four days during May but that’s been put back a year.
When we caught up with him, he was in the middle of riding virtually from Land’s End to John O’Groats but he said: “I can’t wait to get back out on the roads of France but at least this way I have managed to help a local charity.
“There is not a lot of money about and it’s tough for charities at the moment, so every little helps.”