Keen Hartlepool biker turns 69 – in middle of 1,000 mile ride

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KEEN cyclist Alan Coyle celebrates his 69th birthday next month – in the middle of a gruelling bike ride topping 1,000 miles.

Alan and his wife Jill, 63, are all set to take on the mammoth task of riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

The ride is normally between 850 and 950 miles long but as the kind-hearted couple will be making a few overnight stops off the traditional route, they have estimated their challenge to be around 1,070 miles.

But the pair are ready for the off and have already raised around £1,400 in sponsorship money before they even complete the very first mile.

A friend of Alan and Jill’s works in the Philippines and the couple have been to Asia to visit him twice.

Alan admits his shock at the squalor and poor conditions some of the people live in in the country and was told that unless they can pay, people who are ill have no way of getting treatment.

The couple’s pal is going about setting up an emergency medical fund for residents there – an idea supported by Alan and Jill who are taking on the gruelling bike ride to help raise cash.

Alan, a retired television service engineer and church pastor, said: “At first we said if we could raise £1,000 that would be great.

“But we have already have a lot of support so we thought we would have a bit more ambition and doubled our target.”

Alan and Jill, a phlebotomist, who live in the Cleveland Road area of Hartlepool and have three sons and one daughter, are setting off to John O’Groats tomorrow before starting their ride on Monday afternoon.

The couple are expecting to take around three weeks to complete the ride, and Alan thinks they will be in the Bristol area when he celebrates his 69th birthday on June 10.

“We are staying at my sons house in that area the night before so he might have something planned,” added Alan.

To support Alan and Jill and donate visit www.alanjillride.talktalk.net.