Coach breakdown gives unexpected bonus of uninterrupted sleep for some

Day Three in the Big Brother… sorry, we mean Day Three of the Sport Relief John O’Groats to Land’s End Sport Relief Bike Ride is now starting, and Davina McCall has been blogging about just how bad the conditions were on Monday night as David Walliams’ team of celebrities headed through the Scottish Highlands.

In the Big Brother host’s blog, which you can read here, she talks of being woken at 3AM to undertake her second solo stint of the 1,000 mile ride, taking over from Patrick Kielty, who, she says ominously, wasn’t his normal chatty, sweary self – understandable, given that he’d just spent two hours riding in temperatures as low as -15 Centigrade.

Worse was to come – one of the experienced escort riders who are accompanying the celebrities had to get off the road after he started showing classic symptoms of hypothermia. Despite the cold, McCall found the moonlit Scottish scenery breathtaking, something that helped keep her going, though afterwards she admitted that her legs had turned to jelly the moment she stepped off the bike.

The coming of dawn appears to have given the riders renewed impetus, also helped by schoolchildren cheering on the handover between Miranda Hart and Fearne Cotton, who is proving to be one of the strongest riders in the team, according the the Sports Relief Twitter feed.

But with the sun going down, so too did the cyclists’ spirits, with David Walliams facing the most arduous task of the night, a monster climb in the Lake District which he rode during a two and three quarter hour turn on the bike while his colleagues tried to rest, although as Sport Relief said on Twitter, “It's unrelenting this - like a recurring nightmare as the sleeping riders get a hand on their shoulder to tell them they're next.”

One bonus for the riders – though perhaps not the support staff – was the tour bus breaking down outside Carlisle for three hours. Evidently, some of the team have been having problems sleeping on the bus as it wove its way down through the Highlands and on to the Lake District, so the chance for some quality shuteye was eagerly grabbed.

Today, reinforcements will arrive in the shape of Jimmy Carr, who has been unable to participate in the ride to date as a result of a clash with work commitments, as they head down through Lancashire – they’ve just passed Houghton, near Blackburn, with Patrick Kielty handing over to Russell Howard.

The team is now more than halfway towards its fundraising target of £1,000,000, with £566,000 pledged to date, and you can donate via the Sport Relief website, which also has video diaries, a GPS tracker so you can see check progress, and a Lane of Fame where names of donors appear, assuming they’ve ticked the appropriate box when making their donation.

One organisation supporting the ride is British Cycling, which is encouraging its 30,000 members and staff to make donations to the riders’ cause, and which has also organised insurance for the event. British Cycling hopes that the ride, which will be the subject of a BBC documentary later this month, will encourage more people to take to their bikes.

Jonny Clay, Sport and Membership Director at British Cycling, said: “The Sport Relief Million Pound Bike Ride is not only raising funds for a worthwhile cause, it has inspired some of this country’s best known celebrities to cycle and we believe this will inspire others to follow suit.”

He added: “We have covered the cost of the insurance for the event to show our support for this great initiative and we are also encouraging British Cycling members and staff, most of whom, as regular cyclists will appreciate the physical challenge faced by the seven riders, to donate generously to the cause.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.