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Bury St Edmunds cyclist home after fund-raising trip

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An 82-year-old cyclist from Bury St Edmunds has returned home after completing more than 1,000 miles.

Manya Norris started in Portsmouth on June 25, before heading to Dover, taking a ferry to Calais, cycling down the north coast of France to Roscoff, travelling back to Plymouth and cycling back to Portsmouth on August 1.

She said: “I’m surprised that it all went so well. At home I have aches and pains, backache and feel tired but I didn’t need any of the gels and painkillers I had taken with me, not even an insect bite. Funnily enough I feel more tired and less energetic since I got home.”

Manya Norris at her welcome home party after completing her challenge
Manya Norris at her welcome home party after completing her challenge

Manya took on the ride to raise money for four elderly people’s rent in a residential home in Awaas, India, which a university friend of hers set up.

She said: “I did voluntary work in India for 25 years, helping children with HIV, then Ramesh showed me the home and after visiting I had a few ideas how I could help.”

Some of the 38 days were not easy for the octogenarian, though she did say she was lucky with the weather and hadn’t lost any weight from just eating her emergency rations of bananas and Babybel cheeses for breakfasts and evening meals.

Manya said: “My longest day of cycling was 56.3 miles in five and three-quarter hours, from Carentan to Cherbourg. I was following a popular cycling route which stopped.

“I managed to find my way back on to it but it finally lost me and I had to join the main road into Cherbourg. By the time I found the hostel I had been on the road for 11 hours.”

But there was humour on the ride, too, including when Manya met a couple of naked cyclists.

She said: “I could see they had no vests or shirts but couldn’t believe they were wearing nothing at all,

“I called out to ask them where they were going and they said there was a naked cyclist’s rally in Folkestone. I asked them about my route and I helped them find theirs. As they got going, and from behind, definitely starkers.”

Donations have come from Manya’s friends and family as well as people she met along her journey.

She said: “A very big heartfelt and sincere thank you to everyone who helped me raise funds with this cycling adventure. God bless you all.

“It was a bit different from my usual popping to church and the shops on my bike.”

To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/manya-norris