Monday, 10 January 2011


An ambitious group of north east cyclists are undertaking a sponsored coast to coast ride with a difference by cycling from Chile’s Pacific coast to the Atlantic Ocean in Argentina. The 1,000 mile challenge includes crossing the Andes mountain range and cycling around 100 miles a day.

The six riders are funding the trip themselves and raising money in aid of cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. They are Duncan Dollimore (Whitley Bay), Jimmy Logue (Benton), John O’Neil (Chester le Street), Kevin Waugh (Low Fell), Gary Riley (Felling) and Andrew Morland (Low Fell).

Their 12-day ride is now underway and they have already hit a major snag when one of their bikes failed to arrive at Satiago Airport, one of their main concerns before setting off. As a result the group are now taking turns riding what they describe as ‘Chilean boneshaker of a bike’.

Organiser Kevin Waugh says: “We planned everything in great detail but there will always be unexpected issues to resolve.

“Just after New Year an earthquake hit central Chile and destroyed a railway bridge which we were supposed to be crossing on our train journey to our starting point in Constitucion. This means we’ll have to lug all six bikes and equipment on to the replacement bus service so I’m sure we’ll be popular with other travellers.

“We’ve all trained really hard but it has been difficult due to the weather and the snow has affected our preparation. We’re very determined though and raising money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is really motivating.

“Our generation has too few heroes but Sir Bobby gave us hope that great men still appear from time to time. It seems unlikely to us that we'll see another man like him which makes it easy to dedicate the biggest trip of our lives to his charity.”

Kevin and his co-riders were seen off on their epic journey by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer OBE who is an enthusiastic patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and no stranger to cycling himself.

In 2008 Alan and fellow television presenter Adrian Chiles cycled from Newcastle to London via West Bromwich in aid of the Sport Relief charity. They completed the 335 miles in just two days.

Alan says: “I really admire these guys and know from experience just how hard this will be for them.

“It is a real test of endurance and believe me the ride will take its toll on more than just their lungs and legs. Bike saddles are not the comfiest things to sit on for any great length of time as Adrian and I found out.

“They all sound very confident though which is good and they know they are doing all this for a great cause.

“It’s because of committed fund-raisers like these lads that we’re able to keep building on Sir Bobby’s legacy and continue to help local cancer patients.”

Lady Elsie, Sir Bobby’s widow, also sent the group a good luck message before they set off saying: "I would like to thank you and your families so much for all your efforts in training and organising your South American cycle ride.

“I hope you complete it safely and look forward to meeting up with you all upon your return."

The Ocean to Ocean Bike Ride begins at Constitucion, Chile, on January 9 and ends at Atlantic Beach in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 19. It takes in the Andes mountain range and one of the highest passes between Chile and Argentina. The group will cycle close to the crash site of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which was the subject of film and book Alive.

More information, how to make a donation and regular updates from South America are available via the website

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in March 2008 and has gone on to raise more than £2.5 million to fight cancer.

It operates within the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust to provide services not yet available within the NHS and directly benefits patients across the north east and Cumbria

The charity recently announced it is working with Newcastle University and is jointly committed to buying a Biomarker Generator, an ultra-compact cyclotron which will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. It is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe and costs more than £500,000.