Former Banbury Guardian reporter Joby Mullens was on the receiving end of a flurry of congratulations when he made it to Florence by bike last week.
Friends on social media had been following his determined journey from Banbury through France to Italy, reaching Florence on Saturday.
The intrepid cyclist, a member of the Banbury Star Cycling Club, has raised £600 of his £1,000 target for Katharine House Hospice.
“I planned the ride after doing Land’s End John o’ Groat’s last year, raising £1,000 for the Gatehouse Project for the homeless in Oxford, which I volunteer for,” he said.
“I decided on cycling to Florence as I liked the idea of cycling across the continent but this time with the challenge of some hills.
“I’ve cycled from Oxford to Brussels before and also from Banbury to Holland and back via Belgium and France.
“I also chose Italy as my older brother lives there. I chose to raise money for Katharine House as my younger brother was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few years back. He’s made a full recovery but I wanted to support the hospice’s work looking after terminally ill patients.”
Mr Mullens, who lives in Banbury, based some of his route on a charity ride he spotted online from London to Rome and he adapted it to his own needs.
“I wanted to go back to Rouen as I’ve been before and really liked it. I went via Reading on the first day and met old journalist friends,” he said.
“I also arranged to meet a Swiss friend of mine in Geneva who I met travelling across Canada about ten years ago.
“I booked hostels, hotels and B&Bs and tried to do about 80-90 miles a day. One of the toughest days was crossing the Alps through the Neufenen Pass. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I got a great buzz though finally reaching the summit after an hour and a half of solid climbing.
“I had to climb mount Ceneri the following day as I continued through Switzerland.
“There were so many highlights – meeting lovely people, cycling along serene canal paths in France, seeing the Aletsche glacier by cablecar and riding into central Paris plus the thrilling finale descending into Florence after some challenging climbing across the Appenines!
“I’m already thinking of ideas of what to do for next year’s inevitable trip – suggestions welcome.”