Emergency bananas rescue man's 875-mile solo cycle challenge

Anton Lavery in a cycle helmet during a cycle challenge around Essex and Hertfordshire, April 2022

Anton Lavery during his 875 mile cycle challenge in seven days around Essex and Hertfordshire - Credit: Anton Lavery

A dad's solo challenge to cycle 875 miles in seven days around Essex and Hertfordshire has raised £10,000 for an organisation that supported his family when his son was ill.

Anton Lavery spent 65-hours on his bicycle, pedalling across Essex and Hertfordshire, the equivalent distance of cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats.

He cycled 62.5 miles from his home near Great Bardfield to Saffron Walden and then to Linton, South Cambridge, back to Saffron Walden via Duxford and back home through Thaxted. After lunch, he completed the same route for the second time. And he repeated the route for seven consecutive days.

Anton said he had not been on his bike for two years, then trained hard for three months in preparation.

By day two, one of his Achilles tendons was damaged but he pressed on, also coping with neck and shoulder pain, and trying to ignore a saddle-sore backside.

Anton said one of the big challenges was being able to eat food faster than his body was burning it.

He estimates he burned 21,287 calories and he had to eat up to 30grams of carbohydrate-rich food every 20 minutes in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Anton said: "This was all carefully planned but even then, there were a couple of days when I needed extra food and I had to stop to buy emergency bananas!"

Luckily he was able to pitstop for a few minutes at a shop for bananas before carrying on.

Anton Lavery (centre) finishes his cycle challenge and is greeted with champagne and flowers, Essex

Friends and family welcome Anton Lavery home as he finishes his cycle challenge, pictured here with son Finn and wife Louise - Credit: Anton Lavery

At the end of the challenge, he reached home to find his wife Louise, sons Cullen and Finn and friends and family there to welcome his return with a medal, champagne and flowers.

His solitary fundraiser was in homage to his son Finn's experience last year, when the Felsted School student was seriously ill in hospital with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Because of the Covid pandemic, for most of the time they were unable to see him.

The cash raised is for the Encephalitis Society which provided them with support and information.

Anton, the managing director at Atlas Winch & Hoist Services, asked colleagues, customers and suppliers, friends and family to support his fundraising.

He had hoped to raise £5,000 but reset the target to £8,750 in reference to the 875 miles when money continued to be generously given.

"The support has been truly heart-warming, I'm pretty chuffed," he said.

Julia Clark, Director of Engagement at the Encephalitis Society, said: “Anton’s achievement in cycling 875 miles in seven days has been inspiring for the Encephalitis Society and our supporters across the world.

“It was very clear from the very first time we spoke that he is a devoted father and husband who wanted to raise awareness of encephalitis and support people who have been affected by this devastating brain condition.

“We are so grateful to Anton for pushing himself through the pain barrier and for raising an amazing £10,000 which will help families like his own get the help they need at what is such a difficult and uncertain time in their lives.”

Anton's fundraising stood at £9,745 when this morning (April 26) it was boosted by a further £255, taking the total to £10,000. The page is still taking donations: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anton-lavery1 


Key stats from Anton's cycle challenge:

  • 875.21 miles cycled in 7 days
  • 37,609 feet climbed
  • 65hours 1minutes in the saddle
  • 21,287 calories burned
  • 38.2 maximum MPH
  • 13.46 average MPH