SUPERMARKET manager Andy Fallon set off from his Deighton home for a bike ride.
But this was to be a far from ordinary cycle trip.
Andy, 45, said goodbye to wife Mandy and six-year-old daughter Isla outside their Whitacre Street home and headed off alone... to Istanbul!
A gruelling 17 days later, having cycled all the way to the Turkish city, Andy checked into a hotel, ate a meal and left on a plane back to Manchester Airport early the following morning.
His amazing solo and unaided 1,930-mile journey took him through Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece and finally Turkey.
He not only survived, but thrived on extreme heat, altitude, constant rain for several days, being chased by packs of wild dogs and having to pitch his tent in a field in complete darkness when there was nowhere else to stay in the south of France.
He also had to contend with mechanical problems with his back wheels.
But none of this could deter Andy from his goal of reaching Istanbul by pedal power and raising money for Save the Children. His trip has so far has raised more than £1,000 for the charity.
Andy did only four training cycle rides before setting off, he eats a normal diet and admits to drinking “more than a lot of people.”
“I think I must have a natural level of fitness,” he said. “I’ve also got a good mindset, I fix my mind on a point and concentrate on that. Rather than thinking about the whole trip, I think about getting to Hull that night, or wherever I’m heading. It is about little steps.
“It was a fantastic trip, I was totally off the beaten track and seeing things on a bike is so much better than from a car, you use all your senses.It was a brilliant experience and you can’t put a price on that.
“The highlight was cycling through the Alps in beautifully sunny weather with clear blue skies and snow on the mountains.”
Andy first decided to try his hand at endurance events two years ago by entering an Ironman triathlon – 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle ride and a 42.2km marathon. At the time, he couldn’t even swim front crawl and went down to the Galpharm for a swimming lesson.
After that, he really had the bit between his teeth and last year he cycled solo to Gibraltar for charity.
What makes Andy’s journeys even more remarkable is that he does everything solo, with no outside support or back-up team and carries everything on his cycle.
His kit consists of a lightweight tent, a spare pair of cycling shorts and a top, waterproofs, two mobile phone chargers, toothpaste and soap, a repair kit and an inner tube.
He said: “I washed any kit at night and fastened it to the panniers the following morning – it really was wash and go!”
His only concession to luxury was a £40 padded saddle bought from Halfords in Huddersfield. He kept in touch with his family every night through Facebook and Twitter.
He added: “I’ve definitely got the bug, I wouldn’t mind cycling across America, but that might be a few years away, I don’t think Mandy will let me go just yet!”