Pals set to free wheel it from Athens to Athens of the North

Kelso-born Chris Strother (left) who will cycle 3,000 miles for charity this summer with his friend Stuart Doyle. Photograph:
Kelso-born Chris Strother (left) who will cycle 3,000 miles for charity this summer with his friend Stuart Doyle. Photograph:

A KELSO-BORN coffee barrista will undertake the bike ride of a lifetime this summer.

For Chris Strother and his friend Stuart Doyle are to cycle from Athens back home to the Athens of the north, Edinburgh, starting in May.

Camping along the way, the independent and self-funded ride is in aid of the city’s St Columba’s Hospice where Stuart’s grandmother was cared for.

Chris, 31, said: “Stuart came up with the idea in the pub. I had done a few months travelling a few years ago and wanted to do something else, so when this came up I didn’t have to think twice!

“It’s a great opportunity to do something worthwhile and enjoyable, and see a lot of Europe. I’m just up for the challenge!”

The Edinburgh-based men both play for Edinburgh Southern, a Sunday league team, and initially thought about a running project to raise cash, but settled on cycling because they could cover more miles.

Work commitments mean they have to achieve their 3,000-mile journey through 13 countries in eight weeks which will see them cycle about 80 miles a day with one day off a week.

Chris admitted it’s difficult to fit in training: “We both work full time and play football”, but said he’d just come back from a 50- mile bike ride the day before.

Asked what he was looking forward to most, Chris said: “Seeing some of the countries such as Albania and Croatia: with France and Germany you know what to expect but some places we’re going to are a bit more unknown to me – and I’m hoping we meet people along the way.This is the first challenge that we have done to this extent, and the longest. It’s both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.”

Chris’s parents, retired nurse May and retired accountant Neil Strother, still live in Kelso, and the young Chris attended Broomlands primary and Kelso high schools.

“My parents are very supportive of it, as they have been my whole life with anything I have wanted to do. They are excited for me and, of course, had many initial questions about it concerning safety, sleeping arrangements etc. However, they think it’s a brilliant thing to be doing and have no doubt Stuart and I will achieve our goal.”

And brother Gerald is equally supportive.

The duo’s football buddies have already raised £1,500.

Chris said: “Initially we thought we might raise a couple of thousand but everybody has been so generous – if we could make the same again, that would be great.”

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