Royal Navy spokemen begin epic charity cycle ride across the USA
Thirty-five days continuously in the saddle have begun for Royal Navy officers Commander Pascal Patterson and Lieutenant Commander Dan Waskett.
The duo face a 5,000-kilometre (3,100 miles) ride from San Diego in California to Jacksonville, Florida, an adventure they call ‘Stars and Spokes’.
All being well they’ll average 170 kilometres (105 miles) each day to reach their destination on the Eastern Seaboard on August 22nd… having raised their goal of £35k for mental health support/provision in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Keen cyclists, the duo joined the Royal Navy on the same day back in 2005 and have completed multiple front-line tours of duty as aircrew, in hostile environments such as Afghanistan, Somalia, West Africa and the Gulf.
It was during these tours that they realised the tremendous importance of mental health; front-line operations put significant strain on serving personnel and their families.
Beginning on the West Coast, their epic journey from West Coast to East will take them across deserts, over mountain ranges and through hurricane zones with stops along the way in cities such as El Paso, Austin in Texas, New Orleans and Mobile in Alabama before arriving at the Atlantic shore.
"We will be entirely self-sufficient, there is no support team," said Pascal. "It’s us against the elements for eight hours a day, carrying all of our equipment.”
Should they succeed, this will be the first major endurance cycle ride completed by RN personnel.
Both men have been preparing for 18 months, assisted by the Royal Navy’s best scientists and sports/physical fitness experts who’ve advised on the training programme to work up to the ride and the nutritional intake to sustain them for 5,000 kilometres, clocking up 15-20 hours in the saddle weekly and conducting mini endurance rides, such as the Trafalgar Dash from Cornwall to London, replicating the route taken in 1805 when news of victory over the French – and the death of Nelson – was delivered courtesy of a succession of coaches and horses.
"The Royal Navy is all about the team effort," said Dan. "Whether on deployment or during an expedition, the same applies."
As well as raising money the two riders are keen to show how interconnected physical and mental fitness are – underscored by Covid restrictions these past couple of years.
"The mental health of our personnel is so important, we are passionate about getting the necessary support to those who need it", said Pascal. "Help us, to help others."
If everything runs to plan, a team from the British Embassy in Washington will be on hand to clap them over the Florida finish line.
You can follow their adventure on Instagram @starsandspokes or via www.starsandspokes.com.
And you can top up their fundraising pot via www.justgiving.com/starsandspokes.