An 81-year-old Scottish cyclist who lost her three children within the space of four years, when they were all aged in their 40s, is halfway towards achieving her aim of becoming the oldest woman to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats – and she has the support of Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, as well as their team sponsor, Ineos.
Mavis Paterson, from Auchenmalg in Dumfriesshire, is undertaking the ride in memory of her three children, who all died within the space of four years while aged in their 40s, and is also aiming to raise £20,000 for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
She began fundraising for the charity after losing her mother and sister to cancer, and 10 years ago, aged 71, rode across Canada, with her exploits featured in a BBC documentary. Last year she also undertook a 24-hour ride for the charity.
Currently, she is approaching Kendal, which marks the halfway point of the 960-mile route, accompanied by fellow cyclist, Heather Curley, and aims to raise £20,000 for the charity, Macmillan Cancer Support.
The pair, who have the support of a motorhome and driver on their ride from Cornwall to Caithness, set off from Land’s End on 30 May and aim to arrive in John O’Groats at the end of June. Guinness World Records has said that should she finish, she would be the oldest woman to complete it.
So far, they’ve had to cope with a couple of broken Garmin GPS units that needed replacing urgently, a tumble that thankfully left Mavis unhurt, an unplanned diversion due to a motorway underpass being closed, and some atrocious weather – but also, they’ve had plenty of support from people they met along the way plus assistance from bike shops and fellow cyclists.
Shortly before they set out, Ineos confirmed that it would be sponsoring the Scottish leg of the ride to the tune of £10,000, and Team Ineos rider Wout Poels sent her a good luck message that also featured best wishes to her from team-mates Thomas and Froome.
When @WoutPoels heard about 81-year-old Mavis Paterson's ride from Lands End to John O'Groats in aid of @macmillancancer he wanted to send his support. He asked a couple of his training partners too... pic.twitter.com/h6VAuWPkGE
— Team INEOS (@TeamINEOS) May 31, 2019
Ineos communications director Mike Crotty said: “It’s amazing to see Mavis’ bold determination and drive - and she shows that the power of cycling is ageless.”
Mavis, quoted on the Team Ineos website, said: “I’m excited and a little bit nervous about getting started, however it’s something I really want to do.
“It will be nice to get the world record, but for me I’m doing it to raise money for Macmillan and because cycling and taking on big challenges helped me cope with the unimaginable grief of losing my children.
“It’s impossibly hard going from being part of a family of five to being alone, but taking on challenges like this this that keep me going, and I’m happy I can do it to raise money for Macmillan.
“I’ve taken on big challenges before, but this will be the toughest,” she added. ”I really hope people consider donating to help me meet my £20,000 target. It will be a great boost to know I’m helping raise so much money on the day when I’m struggling.”
She has also received a message of support from fellow Scot and round-the-world Guinness World Record holder, Mark Beaumont.
I’ve tweeted about this super-gran before & she is off again - now 81 y/o - Mavis Paterson is pedalling Land's End to John O'Groats in aid of @macmillancancer. Best of luck Mavis! You can support her intrepid adventure >> https://t.co/m6CFHvLb91 pic.twitter.com/6IjpIDVyIH
— Mark Beaumont (@MrMarkBeaumont) June 3, 2019
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.