Photo: The KSS Wheelers pictured outside Edinburgh International Conference Centre
A group of surgeons have successfully completed a 522-mile charity bike ride to their annual conference in Scotland, in aid of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.
The KSS Wheelers spent a total of 45 hours in the saddle as they pedalled all the way from the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead to Edinburgh, in just six days.
Day one saw the dozen-strong team of cyclists tackle the North Downs in Kent before being escorted through the Dartford Tunnel on the back of a Highways Agency pick-up truck.
Team leader Jeremy Collyer said: “Once on the other side, the only way was Essex as we meandered through to the Cambridgeshire town of Saffron Walden.
“After an overnight stop in Saffron Walden we travelled on through Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to Boston. A lot of this is very flat through the fens, but there were headwinds, thunderstorms and hail.
“After an overnight stop in Boston we set off again through the headwinds to the Humber Bridge which led us into Yorkshire and more rain.
“Day five took us over the Pennines, again into headwinds, stopping briefly for a cup of coffee at Allston before travelling on to Gretna for final overnight stop.
“The last day was arguably the toughest on paper but the good weather smiled upon us and made it easier than the climbing statistics would account for.”
The KSS Wheelers cycled up hills totalling 25,541ft before finally joining 500 delegates at the three-day British Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons conference.
Most of the team are maxillofacial surgeons based at the Queen Victoria and the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford.
Jeremy, from Horsham, was joined on the ride by Paul and Karen Johnson (Guildford), Ken Sneddon (East Grinstead), Paul Norris (Horley), Matt Willcocks (East Grinstead), Murray Pratt (London), Ben Gurney (Esher), James Sloane (Crowborough), Helen Newman (Haywards Heath), Nick Leakey (East Grinstead) and Nikkie Garnham (Great Bookham).
Nikkie’s brother-in-law was flown to hospital by the Air Ambulance following a road traffic collision in 2008 and her father Alec is a volunteer for the charity which needs £6million a year to keep both helicopters flying.
Nikkie, a sales consultant, said: “After the third day we seemed to be in a routine and although our legs were tired we were encouraged by our support team who looked after us all very well. It was invaluable to have them as I would not have wanted to be carrying all the equipment required.
“I think the hours of training paid off as I was surprised how well I felt with no real after-effects. I’m really chuffed that I managed to complete the biggest challenge in my lifetime to date.
“I did say that I would be selling my bike once I got back but I have changed my mind on that and I would do it again.”
The KSS Wheelers have so far raised £5,587 of their £10,000 target, and can still be sponsored at