WHEN Paul Needle sets off on a 100-mile cycle ride, the main thing on his mind will be beating a record set by his grandfather almost 90 years ago.

In 1925, Mr Needle’s grandfather Percy clocked five hours and 23 minutes completing the Balham 100-mile cycle ride.

As former serviceman Mr Needle, 46, prepares to tackle the gruelling 100-mile Prudential Ride London-Surrey challenge, he is aiming to equal or beat that time.

On August 10, he will ride alongside 28,000 other cyclists from London’s Olympic Park, through the Surrey countryside to finish back in London at The Mall.

Mr Needle, from Winston Drive, Banbury, took part in the ride last year – completing it in just over six hours.

He said: “About a week after I had done it I popped to my parents’ house and mum put out a big trophy on the table for The Balham 100.

“I looked at the 100-mile race time my grandfather had done it in and could not believe it.

“My grandfather is no longer around but straight away I thought that’s my goal if I get a place next year.

“It must be in the genes.”

Mr Needle’s late grand father Percy, who lived in Islip Road, Summertown, and great-uncle Frank, who died in 1977, were founder members of cycling group Oxford City Road Club in 1923.

Every year, club members compete for two cups in memory of Frank and his wife Hilda.

They are awarded for fastest man over 25 miles, and fastest woman over the same distance.

Former air engineering mechanic Mr Needle, who served with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm from 1984 to 1989, will raise cash for charity Blind Veterans UK while completing the Surrey race.

Now a transport manager for Smiths & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd, Mr Needle was based on HMS Ark Royal, and ground support at Culdrose in Cornwall.

He said: “Having been in the Forces myself, I wanted to raise money for a charity that supports veterans.

Banbury Cake:

Paul Needle's grandfather, Percy.

“When I heard about the work that Blind Veterans UK does to help vision impaired ex-Service men and women it really struck a chord with me.

“If you lose your vision that must be so life-changing.”

Mr Needle, who grew up in Steeple Aston where his parents Roger and Linda still live, took up cycling about three years ago after completing several triathlons, including at Blenheim Palace, and he has not looked back.

Before the main ride in August, Mr Needle plans to complete slightly shorter runs in Warwick and the New Forest.

He said: “The hills are massive – I don’t know whether it’s a good or bad thing knowing the course as the first time I didn’t know when the hills were coming. It’s so scenic, and the camaraderie is amazing.”

  • To sponsor Mr Needle, visit justgiving.com/paulneedle-onyerbike


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