Teacher Andrew Sykes swapped the classroom for the adventure of a lifetime.

And he has completed an epic trip, riding 8,000km across Europe on a pedal bike called Reggie.

The 46-year-old Calderdale cyclist has already written two books on his European adventures, having steered bikes around the continent in the last few years.

He wanted to complete a trilogy, and set himself the ultimate test of riding from mainland Europe’s most southern point at Tarifa in Spain, up to Nordkapp in Norway.

Andrew Sykes

The 96-day trip took in France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Sweden before finishing at North Cape.

Andrew, who was born in Elland and lives in Stainland, is now back home and writing the third book, The 35 Degrees: Heading North on a Bike Called Reggie, which is due for release toward the end of this year.

He was inspired to start long-distance cycling after watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2010 he cycled from the UK to southern Italy and then spent two months cycling from the south-east corner of Greece, along the Mediterranean coast to Portugal.

His latest venture was his most ambitious to date.

“It was about as challenging as a long-distance cycle through Europe could get. It’s interesting to compare the different countries along the route.”

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Andrew says his travels have benefited him as a teacher as he has been able to improve his language skills as well as gain life experience.

“In my opinion the best teachers are ones that take a holistic approach so the experiences gained from taking a break can be really helpful when you go back to the classroom.”

He had spent 15 years as a teacher in the south of England, and after ten months away from the classroom has now gone back into teaching modern foreign languages at secondary schools in Yorkshire, helped by Brighouse-based recruitment specialists Provide Education, and is backing the company’s campaign to encourage more teachers back to the chalk face.

Provide Education works with over 2000 teachers to help them find supply teaching posts, and sometimes permanent jobs, in hundreds of schools.

Andrew said: “What’s great about teaching is that it’s something you can always go back to. A bit like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.”