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900-mile ‘midlife crisis’ cycle raises thousands for Mind

Stuart Johnson, Director of the University's Careers Service, on his epic 900-mile charity cycle

Left: Stuart has his painful Achilles heel strapped up. Right: Stuart enjoying the sunshine

Stuart's bike set-up

Press release issued: 20 June 2023

A University of Bristol staff member raised £3,700 with an epic 900-mile cycle from John O’ Groats to Land’s End.

The solo adventure saw father-of-three Stuart Johnson sleep by roadsides in little more than a sleeping bag as he completed the journey in 6 days, 3 hours 30 minutes.

And that was despite needing to visit a physio in Wigan and a podiatrist in Taunton as severe Achilles tendon pain threatened to cut the adventure short.

When not traversing the entire length of the UK, Stuart is Director of the University of Bristol’s Careers Service.

On his JustGiving page, Stuart joked that the trip was precipitated by a “midlife crisis” as he neared his 50th birthday.

He opted to raise money for the mental health charity Mind, eventually raising an impressive £3,700 – although donations remain open.

Stuart, who is 49 and had a hip replacement in 2018, said: “I can honestly say I enjoyed all of it, but the best bit was probably coming down into Kendal on Monday evening; fast riding and a beautiful sunset.

“Reaching Land's End I was mostly just happy! Happy that I'd completed it, happy that I'd done it faster than I thought I could and happy to have raised such a healthy chunk of money for Mind.

“Everyone knows that mental health challenges have ramped up significantly in the last few years, and students have been particularly affected. Mind support people experiencing a mental health problem and campaign to improve services and raise awareness. What they do is critical.”

Much of the training for the ride was done during Stuart’s 30-mile round trip commute from his home in Churchill, North Somerset, to the University.

But little could have prepared him for multiple, consecutive 130-mile days in the saddle, on a route that required him to climb 11,000 metres of ascent – more than the height of Everest.

Stuart said: “Completing the ride has surprised me and given me confidence to try more things, what exactly I do next though I'm not entirely sure. It will be easier to decide when I've recovered from this one!”

Stuart is now resting in Cornwall on a family holiday.

His wife, Kathy Johnson, said: “The whole family is incredibly proud of Stuart for completing this mad adventure. It was great to meet him in Cornwall to celebrate!”

Lucinda Parr, the University of Bristol’s Registrar and University Secretary, said: “Stuart’s remarkable journey across the UK is impressive enough, but to also raise money for such a worthy cause is really inspiring.

“Congratulations, Stuart, we hope you are enjoying some well-earned rest in Cornwall!”

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