Pensioner on the fast track to Paris

Alistair Finlay
Alistair Finlay

A NEWTON Mearns man has signed up for a cycle from London to Paris – at the ripe old age of 73.

Alistair Finlay is still fighting fit, and the four day trip — organised in aid of the Royal British Legion — is the latest of many charity cycles, and his third this year.

Following the 65-mile Scottish Bike Show (in aid of Prostate Cancer Research) and the 81-mile Etape Caledonia challenge (in aid of Marie Curie), Mr Finlay set his mind to the channel-hopping journey.

He told The Extra: “I’m very excited about the opportunity to ride to Paris, but at the same time I’m very aware of what the Legion does for soldiers, and it feels like something worthwhile doing.

“I have a connection with the services, with two and a half years National Service in the early 60s, when I was an NCO with the Royal Corps of Signals, attached to the Royal Artillery”.

Alistair first began cycling long distances in the 70s, but has been on his bike since he was a child — because “if you didn’t cycle, you couldn’t go anywhere”.

He continued: “I’m lucky enough to be retired now, so I have time to work very hard on training — I ride a couple of times a week and I do regular spin sessions and gym work”.

Now, the friends he rides with joke that he is their inspiration, and that if he can do the 287 mile journey at 73, so can they.

The cyclist will be joined by the same three friends and hundreds of other fundraisers on the Pedal to Paris ride, which begins in London on August 30 and finishes under the scenic shadow of the Arc De Triomphe.

The journey includes laying a remembrance wreath at Abbeville — on the Somme — and again at the Parisian Arc.

All the money they raise will be donated to the Legion for service men and women past and present, including benefit and money advice, employment and retraining help, hospital visits and nursing care.

Alistair added that he was grateful for the support he has received so far — £180 has been raised in the first leg of fundraising — and hopes to reach a target of £800 by the August date.

To follow the pensioner’s progress or to sponsor him for his trip, visit Alistair’s Just Giving page.