A man from who describes himself as ‘not a cyclist’ dropped in on the Isle of Man this week as part of a 2,000-mile tour.
The ride will take 48-year-old Stuart Bratt from his home town of Bridgenorth in Shropshire to Coriano, the hometown of the late Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli in Italy.
Not content with that, the self-employed heating engineer is planning to take in as many countries as possible along the way, starting off with Joey’s Bar at Ballymoney in Northern Ireland.
‘It started after a friend’s son developed cancer aged 15.
‘In 2009 I cycled to La Rochelle in France to raise money and promote cancer charities. I did it in five days. It was 561 miles and Adam died aged 25, the day after I arrived,’ he said.
‘That was on September 21 so now every September 21 I ride somewhere in his memory.’
Since then Stuart has cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia and in 2011 he set out from his home and cycled as far north as he could get in a 24-hour period, stopping just 53 miles short of Edinburgh.
So far all money raised has been for teenage cancer charities but this year he’s spreading the net a little wider, donating to the Joey Dunlop Foundation, which operates Braddan Bridge House disabled holiday accommodation, and the Marco Simoncelli Foundation, an educational trust for under-privileged children.
‘I haven’t really done any training for this. I’m using a touring bike and I have to get over the Alps!’ he said.
‘I’ll also be carrying all my camping and cooking gear. But I don’t have a car so I do tend to do quite a bit of cycling day to day.’
He’s keeping to a tight schedule which brought him to the island on the overnight ferry from Heysham via Wales, Ireland then Scotland. He spent the day cycling a lap of the TT course finishing at the JDF house: ‘I hadn’t realised the mountain road was closed because of road works,’ he said. ‘I thought I was going to have to use the coast road but they were good enough to wave me through so I was able to pause at the Joey Dunlop memorial by the old museum.’
The same evening, he caught the return ferry to the UK. After that he’ll ride across England to take the Hull ferry to Rotterdam.
‘From then on the itinerary is, let’s say, sketchy, but I’ll take in Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, then it’s over the Alps arriving in Italy somehow or other on October 19,’ he said.
With a week to go until the trip, he visited his local cycle shop to have panniers fitted, only to find his bike wasn’t suitable to carry them so with just days to go the shop assembled a suitable touring bike for him.
So far his biggest mishap happened just yards from Heysham ferry terminal when he hit an enormous pot hole which broke a spoke and ripped a pannier off, buckling its support frame.
This was his second visit of the year to the Isle of Man. He was here doing catering for the Norton team during the TT races.
So far he has about £2,000 in the pot and is hoping for more donations as he goes along.
You can donate to the JDF by finding him at www.justgiving.com/stuartbratt3 or texting Joey68 to 70070.