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Paul Roberts chases the Sun

Rachel Ellen’s sales director slips off for 200-mile cycle across Scotland in a day


Paul Roberts loves a challenge and, raring to go after a couple of tame years, the Rachel Ellen Designs’ sales director slipped in a mere 200-mile cycle ride across Scotland – in just 16½ hours!

The man who’s previously run 155 miles across the desert with an ironing board strapped to his back was bored as the pandemic had cancelled almost all organised events so picked the Chase The Sun midsummer celebration to get himself back into training.

Above: Cloudy finish – but Paul beat the Sun
Above: Cloudy finish – but Paul beat the Sun

Dubbed “sales director by day, superhero by night” by the team at the Nottingham-based greeting card and gift company, Paul modestly told PG Buzz: “it might not sound like it but 200 miles is a decent distance on a bike. I trained to some degree but my ethos has always been – if you’re genuinely looking to challenge yourself, training and being fully prepared is actually cheating!”

The non-competitive ride is open to all, with no rules, route-signs, timing or medals. It is an annual physical, motivational and navigational challenge, with the goal of riding your bike from sunrise to sunset on the longest day – although this year’s cycle took place on the nearest Saturday, 18 June, with Paul and two pals setting off at 4.35am and finishing at 9pm.

Half the challenge for Paul was the logistics of driving to the finish at Ayr from the Midlands, then making it back 200 miles to the Whitley Bay start point with his bike, a total of 13 hours travelling the day before.

Above: Motivational – Chase The Sun is open to all
Above: Motivational – Chase The Sun is open to all

“Saturday was such a great day,” Paul added, “a 3.30 alarm before riding to the start with the most beautiful sky and sunrise then the 200-mile ride from east to west through Northumberland National Park and the Scottish borders. Quiet roads with almost no traffic and epic scenery, 10,000 feet of climbing but long fast descents as a reward.

“There were a few mandatory stops where we lost a lot of time queueing for food but I enjoyed every second of it, riding with two friends but also lots of others tagged on at various stages to share some miles and stories.

“The only negatives were a strong headwind all day and a cloudy sky at the end which meant we didn’t see the sun set, but we comfortably beat the sun which was the goal. I guess a few hundred people did it, they also do a southern route, one in Ireland and one in Italy on the same day – I’m thinking Italy next year!”

Above: Extreme ironing – Paul competing in the desert (yes, he did iron on the finish line!)
Above: Extreme ironing – Paul competing in the desert (yes, he did iron on the finish line!)

Paul’s now on a week off before starting training for the London Marathon on 2 October, where he’ll be running the 26.2-mile course with Rachel Ellen co-founder Rachel Church to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary – but, of course, having taken extreme ironing to the Marathon Des Sables back in 2012 raising money for The Children’s Society, he’s added a twist!

He laughed: “I did Chase The Sun for fun but I’m trying to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK with the London Marathon, as is Rachel. To give me a better chance of raising more money – and because it’s me – I obviously won’t just be running it normally. I can’t give too much away just yet but it does involve a world first without any question – and it should be great fun, although bonkers even by my standards!”

Top: Start and finish – Paul Roberts in Whitley Bay and as a superhero in Ayr

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