For the third year running, members of the Maritime C5ISR Support Unit (MCSU) based on Portsdown Hill in Portsmouth have taken on a challenge to raise money for The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and the MS Society. 

Key facts from the challenge: 

  • Total Distance traveled - 572 miles (combined 3432 miles)
  • Total cycling time - 41 hours
  • Average speed - 13.9mph
  • Average calories burned - 19,570!!

This year the challenge saw the team cycle through four countries (England, France, Belgium and The Netherlands), covering just over 570 Miles in five and a half days. The team lead by CPO Matthew Pritchard began the epic journey with a night at HMS President in London, meaning the Challenge got underway early morning in the shadows of Tower Bridge. The first day took the team from London 91 Miles through the South Downs and into Dover, where they took a ferry to Calais.

The second day took the team along the coast from Calais up through Dunkirk and Oostende before turning inland to Ghent after 107 miles and their home for the night on a ECO Barge. During the day, the team took the opportunity to visit and pay their respects at the Dunkirk War memorial. The third day was another 106 miles across Belgium then into Holland with Eindhoven providing a stop for the night. Most of the journey was following two of the many canals around. The fourth day was the longest of the challenge, a leg burning 126 miles, which took in the bridge at Arnhem, made famous by `A bridge too far` before we ventured further north to the outskirts of Amsterdam.

The fifth day took the team on the reverse of one of the most popular routes for cyclists down the north coast from Haarlem to Hook of Holland, the other direction is favoured more due to the following wind. The 53 miles were quickly cycled before the six and a half hour ferry crossing to Harwich. On arrival in Harwich, the unit’s commanding officer, CDR David Baines was there to greet the team before joining them on a further 28 miles to Colchester Garrison. The final day took them back into London, a total of 62 miles where they finished at the Lee Valley Velo Park.

The team consisted of CPO Matthew Pritchard, Lt Simon Hearnden, CPO Ryan Aspin, PO Austin Gray, PO Derek Nicholls, Mr Chris Allsworth alongside CDR David Baines. LH Sarah Buchanan and LH Luke Wills expertly supported the team throughout the week.

For the third year on the bounce, the challenge's main charity was the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, with fundraising of over £800 being split 50/50 with the MS Society which is theMCSU's unit charity for the year. The team are already looking at plans for next year and are looking to make it the biggest, longest and hardest one yet.