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Barracuda or bust

MICK STIMSON, cousin Russ and life-long pal, John Whitaker, fancied cycling down to their local. That’s nothing special, I hear you cry. But what if I told you that their local was the Barracuda Bar in Albufeira, and their starting point was Kilburn, nine miles north of Derby in the UK?

The three 58-year-old men have been friends for years. “We’ve played football together, entered pub quizzes together and have known each other for years,” John said. “Russ owns a holiday home in Albufeira and, one day in the pub, he was telling us about his local pub there.” Mick said. “The subject just came up, and we thought, why not cycle to it?” And so, 18 months ago the planning began.

“We tried to plan the route that would take in the least amount of hills. We even drove it a couple of times to see what it was like and changed it where necessary,” Russ explained. “But we still came across some unexpected hills!” Mick added.

The 13-day, 1,400km route from Kilburn to Albufeira saw the boys cycle to Portsmouth, where they caught the ferry to Bilbao. After the crossing in force nine gales, the boys faced wind that was so strong they had to get off and push their bikes in places. Together with the steepness of the hills, their first day on mainland Europe was “a real baptism of fire,” Mick admitted.

Each day, they cycled for nine hours and covered about 100km a day. Before they set off, their bikes were completely checked out and set up for the trip, which benefited them, as during the whole trip there were only two punctures.

Their route took them through places such as Salamanca (Spain), Castelo Branco and Évora, before reaching the finishing line at the Barracuda Bar, at 2pm on May 31.

As well as themselves and their 20-pound bikes, the boys also carried clothes, toiletries, tents, sleeping bags and water with them during the trip. “We had the tents and sleeping bags as backup, just in case we couldn’t find anywhere to stay. Luckily, we didn’t have to use them, but we did come close a few times!” John said laughing.

All three men have known people who have suffered with cancer (John’s father-in-law died three weeks ago from the disease), and so it seemed fitting that the boys rode for Macmillan Cancer Relief. Their adventure enabled them to raise over 2,000 UK pounds for the charity.

When they spoke to The Resident’s Louise Pimm they were all surprised at how good they felt. “Our next trip will be down to the beach to chuck the bikes in the sea,” Russ laughed.

At the finishing line, their wives and Susie, Adam and Mark of the Barracuda Bar were there to greet them. Now, the boys will be enjoying a much-deserved, week-long break at Russ’ villa in Albufeira before they return to the UK.