Guernsey Press

Islander completes 2,500-mile London to Istanbul cycle ride

After more than 2,500 miles and 43 days in the saddle across 13 countries, local cyclist Alex Ford has completed his charity ride from London to Istanbul.

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Local cyclist Alex Ford in Istanbul after completing his 2,500-mile charitable ride. (33403914)

He arrived in the Turkish city on Sunday after undertaking a gruelling 80-mile ride on his final day, the longest of his trip.

He has raised more than £3,400 for Cancer Research UK in support of his father, who has lung cancer.

Since speaking to the Guernsey Press last month from the Bosnian city of Mostar, Mr Ford has travelled through Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia, before heading east through Greece and across the Turkish border to his final destination.

Apart from a few days in an apartment in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, he slept in the tent he carried with him in panniers on his bike, which started to take its toll towards the end of his journey.

‘I camped along river sides, in farmers’ fields and even on the side of a motorway one night,’ he said.

‘One night in Greece, I didn’t have my waterproof cover on and the heavens opened at about three in the morning. I was half-asleep getting soaked.

‘I’ve certainly been grateful for a hostel bed and shower since arriving in Istanbul.’

After being joined on the road for a week by some French cyclists he met while in the Albanian capital, Tirana, Mr Ford returned to solo cycling for the final part of his journey through Greece and Turkey.

However, disaster struck about 150 miles from Istanbul when a spoke on one of his wheels broke.

‘I cut the spoke off, but then the wheel became very wobbly, so I had to stop somewhere to get it repaired,’ he said.

He then had to brave a section of a busy five-lane motorway as he approached the city.

‘It’s legal to cycle motorways in Turkey but bus and truck drivers don’t seem to care.

‘I was having to cycle right on the hard shoulder.

‘It went on for about two hours before I was able to get on to some smaller roads.

‘Seeing the grand mosque in the city centre made it all worth it though.’

Mr Ford said that cycling in temperatures exceeding 40C and a handful of brutal climbs were among the toughest elements of his journey.

However, by the end his body had become used to the physical challenge of cycling daily in tough conditions.

‘My body is fine to be honest. You adjust to the pain and get through it, but a proper bed and shower certainly help.

‘I’m just very proud of what I’ve achieved, and to be able to raise as much as I have for Cancer Research is a nice bonus.’