A Deliveroo cyclist from Old Burghclere is about to embark on a round-the-UK cycle ride as part of a challenge to raise money for the RNLI.

Harry Lidgley works as a rider for the food delivery company, and is planning to visit every RNLI station on the British mainland as part of his 7,000km ride. During his epic journey, he will also climb the equivalent of 65,000m, or the same as almost eight Mount Everests.

Harry told the Gazette: “During the lockdown the RNLI has really struggled, along with many other charities, so I thought I’d try and couple my own personal adventures with trying to derive some charitable benefit.”

The 23-year-old hopes his ride will raise £5,000 for the lifeboat charity.

Harry is no stranger to epic challenges, having previously been part of a team who rowed around the whole UK.

“Towards the end of the first lockdown,” he said, “I was invited onboard an ocean rowing crew called the Exe Endurow. I did my undergraduate degree at Cambridge, where obviously there’s a lot of rowing, but despite that I’d never done any at all.

“It was actually a school friend who was part of the rowing team who phoned me up because they needed a last minute replacement and he knew I had a background in endurance sport, mainly running and cycling. I had a bit of a crash course in ocean rowing and was given about five or six weeks to prepare so it was quite hectic but very exciting.”

Harry and the rest of the crew rowed around the island of Great Britain in 2020 as part of the GB Row Challenge, and became the youngest team ever to do so. While he was on the adventure, he felt reassured by the presence of the RNLI.

“We were lucky that we never had to call on the RNLI,” he said, “but at times we were rowing through very remote and actually quite dangerous passages of water, so the RNLI gave us a real confidence boost knowing that we could call on their crews and amazing equipment all around the coastline.”

He said the lifeboats were “really generous with their time”, giving them advice, and also joining them at some points in the row, such as at Tobermory, the filming location of Balamory.

While completing this challenge, he said he was bitten by “the adventure bug”.

“I realised there was something inexplicably exciting about going out and seeing a little more of the world,” he said, “and being able to couple the hard work of converting the idea of an endurance challenge into a feasible reality.

“The physical effort of going out and completing it is the goal I’ve discovered I take great satisfaction in achieving.”

With the rowing over, Harry said it was “an obvious choice” to support the RNLI with his next challenge. He settled on cycling around the UK, and visiting all 168 lifeboat stations on the British mainland in a 7,000km journey.

“It’s quite a unique circumnavigation of the UK by bike,” he said. “People do cycle around the UK but visiting every station adds significant distance and elevation to the route as I’ll have to be dipping down to sea level and back again several times a day to reach a station.

“There will be over 60,000m of climb across the whole journey, about seven or eight everests, so it all adds up.”

He’s been in training for the adventure for some time, and will need to carry everything he needs to live on the road on his bike except for food and water. He’s used to carrying items on a bike from his current job as a Deliveroo cyclist, which he says is “a really useful way to train.”

“On my days off I can sit in the cycle and get used to the being in the saddle for long days,” he said, “and as Deliveroo cyclist I can use these periods as sprint sessions on the bike.

“It’s hardly an exact science but it means I can get my heart rate up which complements the long slow easy hours on the bike, so hopefully that will stand me in good stead for the challenge.”

On this challenge, Harry is hoping that he can beat his rowing record of 42 days to cover the UK. As a result, he’ll need to cycle over 167km a day.

“It’s a very different challenge,” he said, “as I won’t be fighting the tide, and the wind won’t affect me quite as much, although headwinds are still an absolute nightmare on the bike. It’s just a lot further, and the daily mileage will be a lot more. It’ll be a good race against myself.”

Providing all goes to plan with the Covid roadmap, Harry will be leaving on May 1 from Poole for his journey. He was originally planning to cycle with the skipper of his rowing adventure, Oli Dawe-Lane, but he will now only be joining for half.

“I’m really keen to get friends around wherever they can,” Harry said, “and anyone who fancies it too. It would be really fun if anyone wants to join in.”

He hopes that the adventure will act as a “springboard” for future challenges, with the ultimate goal of becoming a professional endurance athlete. In particular, he looks up to Mark Beaumont, who cycled the world in just 78 days in 2017.

“The dream is to take on similar sorts of challenges and take on some of his world records,” Harry said. “Hopefully this will be a useful springboard towards bigger and madder things.”

To donate to Harry’s fundraiser for the RNLI, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gblifeboatcycle