A keen rider and bicycle mechanic took on a 4,000km cycling challenge across Europe to raise more than £1,400 for Care for Veterans.
Keith Hicks took on the Transcontinental Race in memory of his father, who was ex-army and lived at Care for Veterans in Worthing before he died in 2010.
Keith said: “My dad was very poorly for a long time before he passed away. He needed a lot of specialist care around the clock.
“This difficult time was made so much easier by everyone at Care for Veterans, so I decided to take on the Transcontinental Race in aid of this amazing charity.”
Starting in Belgium, the sixth edition of the race took riders through several countries, including Austria, Slovenia, Poland and Bosnia, where mandatory control points guided them across the continent to finally cross the finish line in Greece.
Keith managed to complete the race in 16 days, with his final fundraising total standing at £1,416 for the charity.
He said: “It was more challenging than I thought. The Transcontinental Race is a self-supported race with strict rules about completing it alone, however it is wonderful to see the same faces out on the road. It really helped perk me up and spur me on as there was a great sense of camaraderie.”
One of the toughest moments came when Keith was riding through Bosnia and his GPS system stopped working.
He said: “Bosnia is a stunning country, but it is very rural. The computer on my bike stopped working so I didn’t know where I was going for a while.
“It was really tough, there was nowhere to buy food or to top up my water bottle. I got chased by a few dogs too, which did help me to pedal faster.”
Keith said he stayed motivated by thoughts of his family and friends, his colleagues at cycle café bar and workshop, Look Mum No Hands!, and all those who had sponsored him.
Keith said: “Knowing that people are watching you online spurs you on. Obviously, it was a personal challenge that I wanted to complete for myself too, so you are racing against the clock. I just knew I wanted to cross that finish line in Greece.”
Another huge motivation came just before Keith left for Belgium when he found out he was going to be a dad. He said: “I am extremely thankful to my lovely girlfriend for letting me go, considering the circumstances.
“I called home a lot so that I could check on her, but also to reassure her that I was OK. There were times I questioned myself, but I knew I had to keep going.”
The money raised will go towards the care and rehabilitation of disabled ex-service personnel at Care for Veterans.