Hats off to a North East man who completed a 3,100-mile solo cycle ride across the USA for charity. James Gray, a 20-year-old Newcastle University student from Hamsterley in County Durham, rode from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in just 39 days.
James took on the challenge to improve awareness of the dangers of testicular cancer and to raise funds for North East-based charity, THE ODDBALLS FOUNDATION. Donations in the UK and USA have been over £85,000 and are still rising.
He was inspired to take on the physical challenge of cycling across the USA as a way of raising funds after hearing about how many men are impacted by testicular cancer from a foundation ambassador during a talk at university. For his ride, James planned a route that allowed him to meet up with people who have beaten the disease as he cycled through their neighbourhood.
James set off on his journey from Santa Monica Pier in California towards the end of May and reached the Atlantic coast at Yorktown Beach in Virginia on last month. During his ride, he passed through ten states, cycling an average of over 80 miles a day, with a total of over 206,000 feet of elevation.
He burned over 150,000 calories on his journey. Although cycling solo, James was supported throughout by his dad David, who drove a distinctive OddBalls RV across the country, where the pair slept each night along the way.
In his second year of a geography and business degree, he said, “It was a big relief to get into Yorktown and I can’t express enough my thanks and appreciation to everyone who has supported the challenge. Without that, it simply wouldn’t have happened.
Testicular cancer is the most common form of the disease in males aged 15 to 49, but it’s something that a lot of men don’t like to talk about. I took on this challenge to do my bit to encourage guys to talk about it and check themselves, and to raise money for The OddBalls Foundation, which does that work brilliantly through initiatives with its team of university ambassadors.”
The OddBalls Foundation is a testicular cancer charity that was founded in 2015 and is based in North Shields. If detected early, it is curable in over 90% of cases. Since it was founded, The OddBalls Foundation has recruited 50 university ambassadors around the country.
They work on its behalf in schools, colleges and businesses, raising awareness of the disease, helping breakdown the stigma and encouraging people to check themselves regularly for unusual lumps or changes in their testicles.