Friends from Portsmouth area cycle to Africa for charity

From left, Tom Miller and friend Leo Maliphant cycled to Africa

From left, Tom Miller and friend Leo Maliphant cycled to Africa

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TWO friends took on the mammoth challenge of cycling across Europe to raise money for charity.

Tom Miller and Leo Maliphant left from Portsmouth and spent 21 days journeying 1,400 miles to Tangier, in Morocco.

Though much of the terrain was flat, muscle fatigue and tiredness started to take its toll.

Tom Miller

The pair picked their own charities to raise cash for with Leo, from Waterlooville, choosing Alzheimers UK and Tom, from Portsmouth, choosing Queen Alexandra Hospital’s Rocky Appeal.

Tom raised around £1,000 for the hospital’s Da Vinci machine – a robot that can perform keyhole surgery.

The 27-year-old said: ‘I liked the idea of challenging myself and I wanted to do something I could potentially be really proud of.’

The pair began cycling in Caen, France, and covered about 100 miles on most of the days.

But the trip did not get off to a good start as their ferry broke down before they had even left Portsmouth.

Arriving in France 12 hours late meant they had to increase the number of miles they cycled that day to 110 – a feat neither had tried before.

Tom added: ‘The fatigue set in at the start of the second week.

‘Though much of the terrain was flat, muscle fatigue and tiredness started to take its toll.’

On the 11th day of their trip Tom and Leo were cycling from Zaragoza in Spain, to Calamocha – a 65-mile trip with steep hills with little or no shade from the 36C heat.

‘There were times when I wanted to give up and for it to just be over,’ Tom said. ‘But the support from friends and family kept me going through the tough parts.

‘That unexpected level of support really made a difference out on the road.’

The route taken by Tom and Leo, 27, saw them travel through Caen, south to Rennes before heading to Nantes.

They continued down the west coast of France, heading through Spain towards Pamplona and Calamocha before cycling down the west coast towards Gibraltar. They then got the boat to Morocco.

A highlight of their trip was meeting up with friends along the way.

Tom added: ‘It was nice to be able to speak English again instead of just broken sentences in French or Spanish.’

Rather than be put off from the tiredness and achy legs, Tom wants to do something similar in the future. His aim now is to find someone he can do it with.

‘It’s always better with friends,’ he said.

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