Super Trooper cycles 2000 miles from Cyprus to Brize Norton
On Sunday evening, Afghan veteran Flight Lieutenant Mike Rankine cycled through the gates at RAF Brize Norton to a warm welcome, after leaving RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus two weeks previously, cycling over 2,000 miles on his own, for SSAFA.
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Flt Lt Rankine completed this unbelievable ride in only a fortnight, raising nearly £5,000 in vital funds for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s work in Cyprus, supporting British military personnel, veterans and their families on the island.
Named after the RAF 'Trooper' flight that flies between Cyprus and the UK – ‘Super Trooper’ Flt Lt Rankine, a 36 year old RAF policeman, set off from RAF Akrotiri on 2 May with family and friends seeing him off in true Cyprus style by having a souvla and champagne breakfast (Mike had porridge) before being accompanied by around 80 people on bikes and escorted by RAF Police to the main gate of RAF Akrotiri, with a few more able cyclists riding with him as far as they could on his first leg to the Troodos Mountains in North Cyprus.
Flt Lt Rankine crossed many countries in Europe including Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium and arrived home on schedule even after the Greek Navy strike caused a route change.
Once back in Blighty, Flt Lt Rankine rode north from the coast to London and then High Wycombe before hitting Oxford where he was greeted by the Brize Norton Cycle Club who rode with him from Oxford to Brize Norton, arriving to an RAF and SSAFA welcome, a well-deserved shower, a slap up meal and a brew up at the mess.
- Afghan veteran Flt Lt Rankine rode unaccompanied for two weeks, for charity.
- That’s over 2,000 miles through 8 countries.
- He cycled 16-18hrs a day with a 30 minute stop to eat, every 2-3 hours.
- This meant covering approximately 150 miles a day.
- It is estimated that Flt Lt Rankine burnt around 150,000 calories over the two weeks - that is over 10,000 calories a day.
- As of 10:30am on Monday 16 May, Flt Lt Rankine raised £4,376.60 for SSAFA Cyprus.
- To help Flt Lt Rankine raise funds for SSAFA’s vital work in Cyprus, please visit www.everyclick.com/supertrooper2016
SSAFA is the oldest national military charity in the UK and its network of around 6,500 volunteers supports some 55,000 serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families each year.
In Cyprus, SSAFA runs a network of volunteers who provide support to the 7,000 members of the British Armed Forces community, as well as the veteran community, based on the island. SSAFA also supports the 7,000-strong serving community through a wide range of professional health and social care services.
Ann-Mari Freebairn, SSAFA’s Director of Marketing and Communications said: “This is a truly incredible challenge, and we are hugely grateful to Flt Lt Rankine for his support.
“Every year, SSAFA provides professional health and social care services, and charitable support, to the 7,000 plus members of the British Armed Forces community in Cyprus. Flt Lt Rankine’s fundraising endeavours will help us to continue this vital support for those serving personnel, veterans and their families living on the island.
“We hope that he has a well-deserved rest in the following days. Congratulations and thank you!”
The idea evolved from another challenge Flt Lt Rankine had set himself in 2014, to run 10km every single day of the year. Part-way through the year he was posted to Cyprus and realised that the total distance covered by the challenge would be that of London to Cyprus and so it came to symbolise his journey. Super Trooper symbolises the return journey.
Having been in Cyprus for the last two years, Flt Lt Rankine has enjoyed many social rides with other cyclists from RAF Akrotiri, but it was in January of 2016 that his training ramped up, building up to longer distances and deliberately seeking out the big climbs to gain strength and endurance.
Before setting off from Cyprus, Flt Lt Rankine said: “It’s a bit like waiting to go on Ops; I just want to go now! I have trained hard for this and I’m confident I have the miles in my legs. What will be tough, and the one thing I can’t train for, is the amount of time in the saddle and all the soreness and stiffness as a result”.
“I plan to stop every 3 – 4 hours for a decent meal and 30 minutes of rest. I am looking forward to eating vast amounts of bread, cake and pasta with absolutely no guilt for a couple of weeks!
“As I’m riding solo and without any support team, I’ll be carrying some spare tyres and a general tool kit and plan to replace those along the way in the major towns, but I hope this won’t happen too often.”
- Visit www.facebook.com/SuperTrooper2016 to see images and updates from Mike’s incredible journey across Europe.