Adventure of a lifetime for fundraising cyclist from Seven Kings
PUBLISHED: 15:00 03 July 2016
After cycling more than 3,000 miles to the city where he was born in Turkey, 50-year-old Mehmet Cakmak says he only wished his ride could have been longer.
The keen cyclist, who lives in Seven Kings, left his home at 6am on April 16 and travelled through Holland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria to arrive in Ankara on June 6.
Mehmet, who owns a cafe in Harlow, lost three stone during the journey, which he completed on his own before meeting his mother, brother and sister-in-law at the end.
He said: “I have always been a keen cyclist and my coach Russ Lubin put me through my paces at his boot camp.
“Honestly, the first few days were tough but by the end I felt great and was wishing the ride was longer.
“Because I was alone during the ride, I motivated myself.
“Every day I woke up with a positive attitude.
“I had a nice bike and a healthy body, everything was good.
“I was also very lucky during the ride, I didn’t injure myself, fall sick or have any major trouble.”
Mehmet’s wellwishers included Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who happened to stop by his cafe before the challenge.
Mehmet said: “He was very nice and said he wished he could come with me. Looking at the news now, I think he probably wishes he had!”
Over the 3,000 mile journey, Mehmet suffered only one puncture, although it occurred in the middle of a busy road in Istanbul.
“That was quite scary,” he said. “The roads in Istanbul were very busy. I was mostly cycling off-road so it was bad luck for it to happen there.”
The father-of-four was inspired by a charity to undertake the journey.
He said: “I wanted to raise money for a hospice called St Clare’s Hospice in Harlow.
“I heard about how it had helped a lot of my customers and their families. It’s a brilliant organisation and I’m glad I could help.”
To sponsor Mehmet, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/Mehmet-Cakmak
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