Cyclist riding across Britain - and back - for charity

Cyclist Tim Clark. Picture: contributed
Cyclist Tim Clark. Picture: contributed
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A FORMER time trial cyclist who had to give up on his dreams after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition is to attempt to smash the world record for pedalling the length of Britain – and back again.

Tim Clark, a former competitive cyclist who won national events, collapsed suddenly in 2005 and was later told he had Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome – a condition that affects the electrical pathways of the heart and can cause a very rapid heartbeat.

His cycling club told him he would be unable to race and he faced the prospect of giving up on his lifelong passion.

But eight years on, Tim, 35, is preparing for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End and back.

The father-of-one, who lives in Currie with wife Ewelina and baby daughter Zoe, is planning on completing the gruelling journey in just five days, maintaining an average speed of 16mph, and spending just three hours in every 24 sleeping in a support vehicle.

He is aiming to take more than 20 hours off the current world record of five days, 21 hours and eight minutes, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation Scotland.

He has become even more keen to succeed after his dad, Douglas, 59, suffered a heart attack a fortnight ago.

Douglas was poised to drive a support vehicle on the challenge and while he is making a good recovery, the family have been left in shock by the episode.

Tim, a hygiene manager at Burton’s Biscuits, said: “I won’t get proper sleep, but I can take cat naps, so the sleep deprivation will be a huge challenge. You can’t train for that. But I find that when you stop it’s when you feel worse, so I’m having minimal breaks.

“I’ve performed various tests to assess my physical condition and the possibility of breaking the record, and the results are good. I have the green light, and the physical capability, to break the record given the right training and conditions.

“Dad’s heart attack came out of the blue and it’s definitely made me more determined. He’s always supported me so I’m trying to raise my game.”

It will not be Tim’s first cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats. In 2009, he made a one-way trip but on June 23, he will attempt to go double the distance in 120 hours.

He added: “When I was told I had WPW in 2005 the diagnosis tore apart my dreams, ambitions and my life as it was then. Even so, four years ago I challenged myself to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I did it in just 55 hours and 24 minutes and it was then I realised I still had the physical condition, and the determination, to overcome anything.

“Because of the condition I felt like I’d been cheated as I don’t know where I would have ended up. I’m hoping this will put my mind at rest.”

Tim has been trained by former professional cyclist Dave Lloyd, one of Britain’s best ever all-round cyclists, and is hoping to raise £10,000.

Heather Gregory, fundraising and volunteer manager at BHF Scotland, said: “We were blown away by Tim’s Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge in 2009. For him to come back to us with the desire and energy to raise more funds – and smash this gruelling Guinness World Record – is just amazing.

“He’s a truly exceptional person.”

• To sponsor Tim visit www.justgiving.com/lejogle2013