I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed (my first) ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 5 September 2021 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The End of the World Record Dream

It’s been a bad week as far as the John O’Groats to Land’s End World Record Relay (JOGLE for short) is concerned.  But following much frantic activity, the attempt is now dead in the water .

The idea started a few months ago via Twitter, when Sharon Duggan cycled from John O'Groats to Land's End and had the idea of getting together about 20 cyclists from different backgrounds to attempt a relay record. Amazingly, so it seemed, no such record had been set before, even though there are relay running records, individual cycling records, and so on. (Incidentally, the individual record time from Land's End to John O'Groats on a bicycle is held by a gentleman called Gethin Butler, who in 2001 did it in the amazing time of 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds.  Remember that time…)

Back to the story. Sharon contacted various people on Twitter and started putting the team together. She contacted Guinness World Records who confirmed that this would be a valid, new record if it were to be set. She did lots and lots and lots of other work including getting multinational firm JCB to agree to be the team’s sponsors, and for us to support the good work of the NSPCC.

Just two weeks ago several members of the team met up in Droitwich, had a ride out together and then spent time discussing all aspects of how the ride would work.  Things seemed to be going so well…

Then this week Guinness World Records didn’t just move the goalposts – they relocated them to a different football pitch in a different town.  Admitting that they had inadvertently accepted the challenge in error (!!) they produced a set of rules which, quite simply, torpedoed the whole attempt.  They insisted that there should be no more than 12 cyclists.  Well, perhaps we could live with that.  Then they said they would not even consider the record unless the time were under 40 hours. 40 HOURS?

If the record for one man - non-stop – is 44 hours, what makes them think that a team can do it a full 10% faster?  (By the way, for any non-physicists out there, riding 10% faster involves a 30% increase in work rate.  A 30% higher work rate than the guy who holds the outright record!)  The idea was for the team to be amateurs;  the only kind of team that could do a sub-40-hour ride would be professional or semi-professional!   And to be honest, they’re all too busy either doing big races like the Tour de France, or competing in the Olympics and World Championships.

Guinness World Records were expecting each rider to do a 70-mile stage at an average speed of over 21 mph. They claim that their records are ‘not just for professionals’, but that just doesn’t ring true here.

And yet, by the way, the rules also state that:

"As a general rule, the participant(s) should not remain stationary (i.e. if he/she does not make any progress towards his/her destination) for longer than 14 days"

14 DAYS? Who wrote these rules?  Can you imagine the Olympic 4x400 relay with a fortnight’s break between legs?  Am I the only person who thinks that Guinness World Records really have no idea what this record was to be about?  ‘Out of touch’ would be an understatement.

We wanted to have ordinary people – keen, of course, but including those who ride for fun, cancer survivors, one who has lost 8 stone in 12 months, and so on – to do something extra-ordinary; and to set a standard which other people could have a go at, and to be honest, it was going to be a record which wouldn’t be too difficult to beat, which we didn't think was a bad thing.

So after discussions within the team, and lots more discussions and arguments with Guinness World Records, we were faced with no alternative but to drop the whole thing.  Sorry folks - it would have been a lot of fun – fun for the team, fun for sponsors and supporters, and fun for generally interested onlookers.  I feel desperately sorry for Sharon, who has put so much time and effort into this – I guess it’s been a full-time obsession for the last three months at least – and now it’s all in ruins.

By the way, if you can get more than 485 people to dress up as Mahatma Gandhi, or hold more than 16 mugs in one hand, or if you can collect more than 571 model Daleks, you can still get into the Guinness Book of World Records.  But if 20 of you want to pedal your backside off doing a great challenge and helping a worthwhile charity at the same time, Guinness World Records would rather you didn’t bother. 

Because Twitter limits you to 140 characters, abbreviations are commonplace.  I guess the one for this situation is ‘WTF?’  I’m sure non-Tweeps can work that one out for themselves.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Record Breakers!!

After Bill & Richard's Excellent Adventure (I think this name will stick!), the next big, fantastic challenge is - as one of a team of 20 cyclists - setting the record for a relay cycle from John O'Groats to Land's End, in August 2012.

This is quite a remarkable challenge for several reasons.  I believe that on at least one occasion, cycle clubs have cycled 'End-to-End' as a relay group, but no one has ever had this feat authenticated by the famous Guinness Book of Records.  Previous unofficial teams have comprised club enthusiasts, not a country-wide mix of 'ordinary' cyclists; no other team has comprised both sexes (as far as I know); and certainly no team has been put together through the medium of Twitter to consist of cyclists who have never met each other before.

This is the big difference with the JoGLe 2012 Relay team.  Sharon Duggan is the driving force behind it all: she has been working her socks off for the last few months - putting the team together, planning the stages, sorting out sponsorship - so that now we have a team. a route, and massive backing from JCB with their favoured charity - the NSPCC.

The ride will take place on the weekend of 9/10/11 August this year, starting at John O'Groats. Each rider will have a stage of 42 miles - mine is Stage 9, from just north of Lockerbie, across the border to south of Carlisle. Some of the riders will be doing over 20mph, although with my ageing frame (my body, not the bike) I'll be happy with 17mph and hope some of the younger lads will make up for me!

This weekend we had our first team meeting in the Midlands.  Seven of us met up for a ride on Saturday afternoon, and to my relief I wasn't left flailing in the wake of the other cyclists - John, Daz, Anthony, Jo, Simon and Andy.  In the evening we all met for Sharon to give us a great presentation and pep talk, which brought us up to date with progress so far. JCB are fully behind the scheme and will be supplying our cycling kit and other support.  Service cars are arranged. Guinness World Records have accepted the record challenge.  Everything is moving forward at a pace.

So pretty soon I shall go and reccy my stage - especially the section through Carlisle - so that there are no slip ups on the day.  Once I've finished, Val and I will drive to Land's End to be there for the grandstand finish.  It's all very exciting!

We would like to raise some funds for the NSPCC during this event - if you would like to sponsor my stage (or any of the other stages) please let me know. Between now and August this is going to receive a LOT of publicity, so it will be money well spent!

PS If you are on Twitter, make sure you follow @Jogle2012relay (and me, @CancerBikeMan)! - and put the web site - www.JogLe2012relay.com on your favourites for more updates!

World Famous in Stornoway...?

I can now reveal to the rest of the world that last Thursday we headlined in the Stornoway Gazette - with the brilliant (if a little corny) headline of 'Bill and Richard's Excellent Adventure'.

Jenny Kane of the Stornoway Gazette kindly gave us some great publicity for the forthcoming ride, and I think I'll adopt that headline as the official name for our Western Isles tour!

Here's Jenny's article:

Bill and Richard’s excellent adventure
Cycle tour around 42 Scottish islands
Touring as many islands in the Western Isles as he can in one month, Bill Honeywell will be cycling on a road near you this summer, all in aid of Cancer Research UK, writes Jenny Kane. And it seems every time the Gazette catches up with him a new destination has been added to the list which now stands at 42 West Coast islands, including most of the Outer Hebrides. By mid May Bill will be arriving in Tarbert, Harris, after having hopefully already covered more than 20 islands. From there he will go on to tour Lewis, Scaplay, Berneray, North Uist, Baleshare, Grimsay, Benbecula, Flodaigh, Griomasaigh, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra
and Vatersay.  Accompanying Bill on his mammoth mission is his good friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Richard Dugdale.

Fifty-nine year old Lancashire man Bill is no stranger to big challenges. It all started in 2009 when he completed a fund-raising walk in the Lake District.  Bill explained: “A good friend of mine died of cancer, she was a big fan of walking the Wainwrights in the Lake District. I walked all 214 in two months in memory of Margaret.”  In 2011 Bill then cycled 4,440 miles around the coast of Great Britain, raising £30,000 for Cancer Research UK.  Raising money for charity is something Bill talks very passionately about: “When I started doing sponsored trips the national charity Cancer Research UK was top of my list to support.  “I have had cancer twice and am still here. I’ve had friends affected by cancer and who have died of cancer. I think it’s important to help these charities.”

For this latest venture in the Western Isles it will be just Bill, Richard and two bikes - carrying everything they need, island hopping and chasing after ferries. “We can’t afford to drop behind schedule, and we can’t afford to miss any ferries,” explained Bill.  “We’ve really got to make sure we keep going. It will all depend on the weather. A cyclist's biggest challenge is the wind. It will be that and not the mileage that’s the challenge. I’ve heard you’ve got a lot of wind up there.”  Fingers crossed for good weather then this coming May, something that would be a novelty for Bill who had to rescue his motor home from a fallen tree on his last challenge on the way to the Corran Ferry. This time round, with no motor home, Bill and Richard will be staying with friends along the way.

But they are still looking for accommodation in the Outer Hebrides.  “If anyone’s got a spare room and want to meet a couple of mad cyclists we will be very grateful. Just one room will be fine. We’re both married men and one of us can sleep on the floor,” laughed Bill.  For every Hotel, B&B or home they stay in a donation will be made to Cancer Research UK.  So if you will have a free room in May on any of the islands they will be travelling through in the Outer Hebrides, get in contact with Bill on his Blog at www.billhoneywell.blogspot.com or contact the Stornoway Gazette by email on jenny.kane@stornowaygazette.co.uk.

You can also find out more information about Bill and Richard’s bike ride, and how to sponsor him, on his blog or you can follow his progress on Twitter @CancerBikeMan.