“Punctures, swollen knees, insect bites, Magpie scratches, mechanical failures and sore bottoms” – no, these aren’t necessarily the usual ailments you’d expect to encounter when on tour with the Royal Navy (even on a nine-month long deployment).

However, for select members of a particularly adventurous HMS Daring, these tribulations were all part and parcel of an amazing fundraising challenge for The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Making the most of their time circumnavigating the globe, eight foolhardy members of the ship’s company plotted a 600 mile (1000km) cycle path across Australia, starting in Melbourne and finishing in Jarvis bay – a journey that would take the cyclists 5.5 days to complete.

Not only did the team willingly volunteer themselves to fend off the local wildlife (with magpies being cited as a particularly vicious offender) and the Australian heat – but the team did it all off their own backs, personally funding the project to a tune of around £400 each.

Wildlife

Chief Petty Officer Steve Riley said: “Along the way we saw more wildlife than you could slap a camel with: wombats, parrots, snakes, spiders, kangaroos and the nastiest magpies on earth. The magpies attack you which is why we all had tie wraps on our helmets.”

After a few close shaves with trailer road trains on the coastal Princes Highway, the continued to plough through some of the most breath-taking scenery the Australian Outback has to offer.

“The views were fantastic, from cycling through Melbourne itself to the amazing spectacle that is the Australian bush. We stopped off at a few places including Moe, Eden and Lakes Entrance, sampling a couple of Ozzie beers and high Carb Oz cuisine each night to fuel us for 6-8 hours of cycling each day,” CPO Riley said.

“We re-joined the ship in Jarvis bay, then sailing up to Sydney for the RAN (Royal Australian Navy) 100 celebrations including marching through the packed out streets under the beautiful Australian sunshine.”

Welcome home

Upon HMS Daring’s return to Portsmouth Harbour, 28 February, it was with great pleasure that CPO Riley was able to present a cheque to The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity for a total of £1043 for the team’s collective efforts.

The HMS Daring cycling team was comprised of: WO1 Dave Garratty, CPO Steve Riley, PO Steve Teasdale, LCIS Furbs Furber, LET Sid Coppick, LPT Si Radford, LCH Graham Window, and ET Ally McCloud.

In addition, LS Bernie Clifton and AB Gabby Hayes formed the road support team for the cyclists.



Photo: CPO Steve Riley cheque presentation with Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity regional fundraiser Hilary Jukes at HMS Daring's homecoming, 28 February