When his wife died in 2012, Eric Suddes drew up a bucket list which included fulfilling her dream trip to a French chateau.
While there, 73-year-old Eric discovered a love of cycling that has led to him completing 10,000 miles on his bike in 2019 alone. Eric spoke about his journey on BBC Tees this week.
When I came back from France, I started cycling round Teesside and then somebody introduced me to the hub, the active travel centre in Stockton and I started to ride out with them. And I branched out from there onto holidays abroad so riding in France, Holland, Italy, Portugal. My daughter thinks I’m crazy.
I just love it. I’m sitting in the house and the sun’s shining through the window and I think I should be outside on my bike. I’ll get my bike out and I’ll ride along the riverside. Just a bit of fresh air and you meet the dog walkers, you see different things in nature, just different every time you’re out on the bike.
The 10,000 mile challenge
Last year I challenged myself to see how far I could ride, and I rode 6,600 miles and somebody said ‘well you should be sponsoring yourself, getting a little bit out of it’ and I sponsored myself last year for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
This year I thought I could ride possibly 7,300 miles, which was 100 miles for every year that I’ve been on this planet, and I thought that I’d be able to do that in 2019. By August I’d ridden 7,300 miles so I thought, I wonder if I can ride 10,000 miles before the end of the year.
On Saturday, I rode out on the Middlesbrough Festive Fairtrade Ride and in going out to that ride I managed to pass my 10,000 miles, so I’m now in excess of 10,000 miles this year, so my friends are trying to guess how many extra miles I’ll do before 31 December where I’ll finish on Infinity Bridge at Midnight.
Why the Great North Air Ambulance Service?
Well I go out cycling or camping to a friend’s farm out in the dales, and you get the stories from them that if there’s an accident on the farm it’s really the Great North Air Ambulance Service that comes in and gets them down because they’re so far from a hospital.
There are no hospitals up on the dales and the other thing, the selfish thing, is when I’m out on my bike I’m out on remote roads, remote footpaths and if anything was to happen to me, the people who might be able to save my life would be the Great North Air Ambulance Service crew. So that’s why.