2,000 miles on two wheels for charity: One student's epic ride in memory of his parents

Jeremy Daubeny is cycling to Greece to raise money for the The Brain Tumour Charity and the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Jeremy Daubeny
(Image credit: Jeremy Daubeny)

What are you doing with your Jubilee weekend? Some of us might be at a festival, or at a street party, or just using the time off to recuperate. For Jeremy Daubeny and his friend Lottie, it is a weekend of final checks before an epic bike ride.

Starting on Monday 6 June, the pair of University of Exeter students will set out on a charity cycle from their homes to Greece. It is all in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the two conditions cruelly depriving Daubeny of his father and mother, respectively.

When the 20-year-old was 15, his parents passed away within months of each other, and so he is looking to raise funds to help the "beacons of hope" for the many with the conditions.

"Back in 2017, my mom was diagnosed with motor neurone disease," he explains to Cycling Weekly. "It is a really horrific condition, your body slowly starts to shut down. She just suddenly wasn't able to move her fingers. Slowly the rest of her body started to just become eventually paralysed to the point where she couldn't even eat or drink, she couldn't turn over in bed. She couldn't speak. So she was completely reliant on support from carers, family and everything it was, it was tough to watch. 

"Later that year, my dad was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour, which is kind of a one year's death sentence, really, it's very rare that treatment works for that one. Sadly, the conditions really followed their course. My dad passed away the following year, and then eight months later, my mom passed away. 

"The charities, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and The Brain Tumour Charity can lead the research into those conditions, providing support to families and people who are suffering with it themselves."

His efforts this summer follow on from a ride around the UK he completed last year, called the 'Tour de Full English', which saw him cover 2,500 miles. That raised over £42,000 for the two charities in total. This time, he wanted to try something different.

This time, there isn't a defined goal for fundraising, just a hope to raise a decent sum and raise awareness for the conditions at the same time.

Jeremy Daubeny

(Image credit: Jeremy Daubeny)

"Basically, this time last year, I did a bit of a cycle tour around the UK and wanted to do it again this summer, now travel has opened up," he says. "I have read quite a lot of cycling books, you know, your Alastair Humphreys, your Mark Beaumonts, people like that. Who had cycled, done pretty incredible challenges abroad. The route that looked the most exciting was actually going through Europe, from our doorstep over towards Greece. 

"Slowly, but surely, we did a lot of research online and came up a route. The idea is, it's not a huge time pressure, we're giving ourselves about 10 weeks, but to cycle around two and a half thousand miles to Greece, basically."

They have been readying themselves for the epic journey. Fortunately, their university terms have already finished, so they can fully concentrate on getting across Europe.

"We're pretty ready. We did a practice trip. We're based in Exeter uni down here. So we cycled to Falmouth, which is about 100 miles from here over three days. The weather was awful, it was chucking it down the whole time and we had a lot of quite chaotic moments. 

"But in terms of cycling, we feel pretty prepared now. It's a completely different challenge in terms of heat rather than rain. We're quite excited to go have a bit of European cycling. So we think we feel ready."

The route has been carefully plotted, but the pair have some decisions to make on which kind of road to use once they get into the Balkans, with differing advice being proffered.

"When you get into Eastern Europe, the sort of the info on the internet is pretty different," Daubeny explains. "Some people say stay on busy roads that are straight but a lot of people say go remote, you'll have a much better time. We've done a bit of negotiation between the two.

"We go down pretty much through the middle of France as we're learning French so want to stay there for as long as possible. And then down the south coast of France from sort of Marseille towards Monaco. And then from Monaco head up into Northern Italy across there and then Slovenia. Then Croatia, where the advice was to go inland because Croatian coastal roads apparently are the M25 of Europe. So we're going to avoid that and then down into Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece."

It won't be all hard work, though, not with 10 weeks to complete the whole trip. It sounds pretty idyllic to me, really.

"I'm most looking forward to finishing a cycle by midday and then just being able to find a nice spot to set up a tent and just sit in the sun and enjoy it, basically," he tells Cycling Weekly. "It's gonna be really nice. To see parts of the world that you would  not normally go to. It'll be really cool just to get to experience a new bit of the world."

The pair's progress can be followed on their Instagram page, @tourdefullenglish, and donations can be made at www.peoplesfundraising.com/donation/greecebound.

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