Comedian David Walliams will be joined by a team of celebrities next month in an attempt to raise £1 million for Sport Relief through a non-stop cycle relay from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
The charity endeavour, called The BT Sport Relief Million Pound Bike Ride and which we first reported on last month, was officially launched today, and riding with Little Britain star Walliams will be Jimmy Carr, Fearne Cotton, Miranda Hart, Russell Howard, Patrick Kielty and Davina McCall.
The team will set off from John O’Groats on an as yet unspecified day in the coming weeks with the target of reaching Land’s End almost 1,000 miles and 80 hours later, riding around the clock in relays. While not on the bike, the celebrities will be taking a breather and cheering on their team-mates from the luxury team bus that will accompany them on the journey.
The ride – which will be undertaken on Dolan Prefissio frames – will be the subject of a BBC documentary that will be shown in the lead-up to the Sport Relief Weekend, which takes place from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 March, and which promises to show the team as they “battle the elements at all hours of the day as they each take turns to cycle through wind, rain, and rough terrain.”
Of course, the first thought that will come to any cyclist who’s completed or even just contemplated riding the length of Great Britain will be why the chosen route doesn’t start at Land’s End to take advantage of prevailing winds. We don’t know whether that’s by accident or design, but we imagine that the team’s reaction when they discover that the ride could have been easier had they gone in the opposite direction will make for good TV.
Walliams, no stranger to fundraising challenges for Sport Relief, acknowledges that tough challenges lie ahead, but says that the prospect of reaching the fundraising target, which will help vulnerable people in the UK and elsewhere around the world, will keep the team motivated.
“As if swimming the English Channel in 2006 wasn’t enough I’ve now roped in a team of people to help me rise to the challenge for Sport Relief again,” he says. “It’s a phenomenal undertaking and going to be really tough but we’re all training hard to make sure we all get to Land’s End and hopefully raise a million pounds for Sport Relief. I’ve seen what money raised through Sport Relief can do and it really does make a difference. It will be this keeping me going through the tough journey ahead.”
Anyone wishing to sponsor the team can do so via the Sport Relief website, and BT, which is supporting the ride, has declared 26 February “Chat for Change” day and will be donating 1p to Sport Relief for every call made from a BT and a Plusnet home landline on that day.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.