Cycling, 1,500 miles with best in-tent-ions

Mike Patmore with his bike

A 79-year-old man has pedalled across 1,500 miles of desert to raise money for leprosy sufferers.

Retired biomedical scientist and seasoned traveller Mike Patmore, 79, was hit by disaster at the end of the first day when his tent frame broke.

So he had to turn back, wait days to buy a new one, and do his 60-mile first-day stint again. But he has now returned home to Streatham, following the epic solo cycle ride from Alice Springs to Darwin in Australia’s Northern territory.

Carrying his tent, sleeping bag, a six-litre water supply, some high protein food and sachets of energy salts, Mike, completed the challenge in 30 days, including six rest days. Mike is no stranger to adventure having recently biked some of the Tour de France mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees plus Mont Ventoux in Provence.

Mike said: “It was a great experience and I’d recommend anyone thinking about doing something similar to get on their bike and get on with it. “Properly prepared, you will never regret it. It was such a positive experience, with many people along the way wanting to know who the old grey-haired Pom crazy enough to do something like this was.”

Mainly staying at campsites, Mike had to cycle north along the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs on the first day, surprising himself by getting an impressive 60 miles under his belt. “I was feeling pretty good at my progress and set up the tent, only to promptly snap the tent pole,” he said. “As you can imagine at that point my high spirits went straight out the window, mainly as temperatures drop to almost zero at night at this time of the year.

“So I turned in with my sleeping bag on top of my blow up mattress and with what remained of the tent draped over me. “I managed a couple of hours sleep but got up by 5am and, wrapping my sleeping bag around me, kept warm by jogging up and down the roadside. “Goodness knows what the truck drivers thought when they saw this apparition in their headlights. “I needed a new tent, though, which meant a trip back to Alice. It was a Saturday.

I had to wait until Monday to catch a Greyhound bus from Ti Tree roadhouse, another two days ride north. “Luckily I stayed at roadhouses while cycling north until the Monday and then took the bus to Alice Springs and back the same day.

“On the Tuesday I was ready for the road again. It was an inauspicious start but the rest of trip went without any major incidents.” Mike has raised £1,000 for The Leprosy Mission to support and change the lives of people affected by leprosy for the better.

The desperate needs of people affected by leprosy came to Mike’s notice during his time working for Medicins Sans Frontieres in Myanmar 10 years ago. He said: “Leprosy is such a unique and terrible disease. Not only do people suffer physically and develop terrible disabilities if the disease goes untreated, but they are often cast out from their families and communities.

“Throughout my trip I told people I was doing it to help people affected by leprosy. People were really interested and couldn’t believe that there are more than three million people globally living with leprosy- caused disabilities.

“They associated the disease with the Bible and thought leprosy disappeared soon after that which is far from the reality.” l If you would like to support Mike’s outback cycle challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ Michael-PATMORE