90-year-old makes history by completing Land’s End to John O'Groats challenge

Peter Langford has ridden over 1,100 miles over the past month in an epic challenge to raise funds for two homelessness charities

Clock12:40, Tuesday 26th September 2023
Peter Langford arrives at John O'Groats

© peterlangfordbikeride.co.uk

Peter Langford arrives at John O'Groats

Under the darkened, moody skies of Scotland’s north coast, the sight of a bright yellow t-shirt draws rapturous applause amongst the friends, family and onlookers who have gathered at John O’Groats. At 90 years of age, Peter Langford enters into sight aboard his bike, as he becomes the oldest person to ever ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG), across the lengths of England and Scotland.

It is the fourth time he has undertaken this journey, but this one is special not just for his age, but also for the money he is raising for The Salvation Army and Access Community Trust - two charities aiming to tackle homelessness.

“I’ve always been concerned about homeless people and so this was an opportunity,” Langford told BBC Breakfast last Thursday morning, just hours before he would ride the final 50 miles of his 1,100-mile journey. “I’ve been bleeding my age for all its worth and it’s really paying off because an enormous amount of money has already come in… which is very gratifying.”

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Across the course of his first three LEJOG rides - ridden when he was 75, 80 and 85 - Langford raised over £58,000 for charity and he holds an equally admirable ambition this time around, with his target currently set at £50,000 on his JustGiving page.

Thanks to his efforts over the past month, having left Land’s End on August 23, the 90-year-old has raised £36,649 at the time of writing and his campaign has no doubt been helped by his eye-catching t-shirt that has served to advertise his campaign as he cycles.

“Someone passed a £20 note through the car window when he stopped beside me, because I’ve got this yellow shirt on it which tells [people] what I’m doing,” revealed Langford to the BBC - an appearance that brought in hundreds of new donations during its broadcast. “It’s a wonderful advert and many times has been worth its weight in gold.”

Not content with completing the traditional Land’s End to John O’Groats route, which is a mammoth effort in itself at any age, Langford was also keen to stand proudly with his bike at both the most southerly and most northerly points of mainland Britain. The ambition that began at Lizard Point in Cornwall on his first day of riding was realised on his final day last Thursday as he rolled into Dunnet Head.

The boost of support

From bottom to top of mainland Britain, Langford has enjoyed the support of both family and friends and the wider public who have generously contributed to his campaign, whether it be riding alongside the ageless adventurer or donating to his fundraising.

“I have had wonderful support from family and friends, and some people cycling with me.

“Yesterday, we had a gentler day and it was a beautiful day… and I really appreciated that. But it’s very difficult to avoid the feeling that you want to get there, you know,” he admitted. “I am not all that good at that, I’ve tried and I’ve tried to savour it more, because I’ve passed through beautiful places and been enormously warmed by the generosity of people in all sorts of places.”

As far as all those involved are aware, Langford is now the record holder as officially the oldest person to have ever cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, an achievement that shines the most wonderful spotlight on the benefits of cycling for people’s physical well-being.

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“I’m a kind of mixture, because my knees are terrible when I walk but when I get on a bike I’m always 20 years younger, which is wonderful and I get a lot of pleasure out of my bicycle,” Langford noted.

Falling to his knees with his arms aloft in celebration underneath the John O’Groats sign on Scotland’s north coast, the seasoned cyclist used his walking stick to hoist up aloft back into the arms of his loved ones.

A sense of gratitude for the achievement

Shortly after coming to the end of his ride, Langford penned his thoughts for his website, which has given detailed summaries of his riding throughout the 31-day trip.

"People ask me what I feel now that I have actually completed the journey. The answer is simple. Immense gratitude which has been with me all the way in a way I truly feel. To my wonderful supportive family and special times with my three children and other family members and all their support. Those who carried my stuff, encouraged me, given so generously, put me up etc. All this will live with me and continue to cause me delight. May God bless you and give you joy."

For a man who has completed the LEJOG challenge once every five years since he turned 75, it begs the question: could he raise his own record once he turns 95 in 2028?

“No, I’m not going to do it at 95. Don’t put any bets on that at all.”

We’ll watch this space… after all, Langford is a man 20 years younger when aboard two wheels.

With a little over £13,000 to raise before Langford meets his target, you can donate to the two homelessness charities via his JustGiving page. Simply click here.

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