Birmingham grandmother set to become world record breaker for Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle

Gina Harris, from Harris, is wet to become the oldest woman ever to cycle the 874 mile route from Land’s End to John O’Groats - and she raised over £5,000 for domestic abuse charity Refuge

An 82-year-old Birmingham gran has broken the world record for the oldest woman ever to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Gina Harris took 28 days to pedal 960 miles from Cornwall to Scotland, raising thousands of pounds for domestic abuse charities along the way. The grandmother-of-five, from Harborne, celebrated her epic journey with a huge slab of chocolate cake when she arrived at John O’Groats on June 23.

Gina, who turned 82 in April this year, is now the oldest woman ever to cycle the length of Britain. She has submitted her entry to the Guinness Book of Records and is waiting for it to be verified.

The retired photographer and gardener, only began cycling when she turned 50 and has previously ridden around parts of Europe and the US. She was inspired by 87-year-old Laurence Brophy, the oldest man to have successfully completed the ‘end-to-end’ challenge in 2019.

Gina Harris, 82 from Harborne who has completed a bike ride from Lands End to John O'Groats in aid of Refuge

Gina, from Birmingham, said: "I rode my old steel touring bike and carried my luggage which was a combined weight of more than 30kg. It was a lot of hard work but when you get into a rhythm you just keep going.

“I didn’t get off to the best start, however, because I lost a sock on the first leg of the journey but luckily I had spares. It was a short cycle to Penzance but the next day we got lost immediately because it looked like the cycle path was closed.

“Eventually we found the route and managed 41 miles going up many steep hills but the weather was wonderful and the lovely Cornish scenery kept us going.”

Gina Harris, 82 on her journey from Land’s End to John O'Groats

Gina was joined by her son Pascal, 47, for several days of the trip and she managed an average of 20 miles a day as she progressed through the country. The superfit gran set off at 7am every day and stayed in Airbnbs, Youth Hostels and hotels along the way.

Gina, whose husband Tim died two years ago aged 86, added: “A few of the days the rain was pelting down and some of the roads we chose were rough and potholed and a nightmare to ride on.

“We met other cyclists doing the route to John O’Groats which is thrilling and we all helped each other carry on. Getting to Scotland was a milestone. I enjoyed every moment of the trip and it’s quite a thing to think I’ve broken a world record.

“We’ll have to wait for the record to be verified but hopefully it’ll be official. Unfortunately my Garmin Sat Nav packed up on day nine and didn’t register 15 miles of the journey but I’m hoping it won’t matter."

Gina Harris, 82, at John O’€™Groats

Remarkably, Gina did not suffer any punctures and only fell off once near Carlisle when one of her toe-straps snapped leaving her with a few grazes.

Gina, who has two grown-up children, has so far raised more than £5,000 for two women’s domestic abuse charities, Women’s Aid and Refuge.

Louise Firth, director of fundraising and communications at Refuge said: “People taking on incredible challenges makes such a difference to our work at Refuge, enabling us to reach and support more women and children impacted by domestic abuse.”

Faye Connelly, fundraising manager at Women’s Aid, said: “We are so grateful to Gina for her incredible support for Women’s Aid, and we want to say a huge thank you to her for taking on this extraordinary challenge for the charity.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.