Three thousand miles in my mighty challenge
AT the age of 60, most people could be forgiven for planning for a more sedate lifestyle.
But as Stephen Cone prepares to enter his seventh decade he is too busy to think about relaxing – he is gearing up for a 3,000-mile challenge that will test him to his physical limits.
In May, the former Lowestoft College lecturer will be setting out on a remarkable charity trek that will take him from the country's most easterly point at Ness Point to other far-flung corners of Britain.
And not content with cycling nearly 3,000 miles to the nation's geographical extremes, he will be also be indulging three of his other favourites sporting pastimes – canoeing, surfing and climbing.
On his bike ride, which takes in Land's End, Ardnamurchan Point and John O'Groats, Mr Cone plans to surf in Cornwall, canoe across the Wash and scale Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and Scafell Point.
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But as he sleeps off his daily exertions each night in his tent, he will be spurred on by the memory of his father and the image of his granddaughter – and the two charities that will benefit from his efforts.
Mr Cone's father, Leslie, died three years ago aged 84 as a result of a heart problem and his one-year-old granddaughter Freya, from Portsmouth, is recovering from a serious hip displacement problem.
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They have inspired him to use his two-month Length and Width tour to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation and Steps, which supports young children with lower limb problems.
Mr Cone, a former marine safety lecturer and special needs worker who lives in Bloodmoor Lane, Carlton Colville, said: 'In order to stay fit throughout my life I have always had a goal to work towards and now is no exception. I had the idea of the ride a year ago as a way to absorb all the activities I am involved in.
'I enjoy cycling the most as it gives me a sense of freedom.'
Mr Cone, who celebrates his 60th birthday in May, will carry all his equipment needed on his bike.
During his journey, he plans to climb a total of 11,174ft in the Three Peaks Challenge and canoe 23 miles across the Wash.
He hopes to complete his challenge by mid-July and if he starts to flag, he will have another compelling reason to be back at home by then – his wife Veronica.
'To avoid a divorce I better be finished by mid-July ,' said Mr Cone, who is a lifeguard on Lowestoft beach 'It is good to be going on this ride and maybe it will inspire other people my age to do something similar.'
Mrs Cone, 58, is no slouch herself. She has cycled across New Zealand with her husband.
She said the biggest challenge facing her from May to July was making sure her forgetful husband turned on his mobile phone everyday so he could report on his progress when she rang.
'I am sure he will do his best on his bike ride,' she said.
'He has always done his best in whatever he does.'
Mr Cone is planning to visit Freya during his ride to promote the work of Steps, which has helped her.
To sponsor Mr Cone and support these two charities, visit: justgiving.com/teams/lengthandwidth