Newcastle University student set to cycle across US in 38 days


A university student must cycle from one end of the United States to the other in 38 days.

James Gray plans to sail 3,800 miles from the Santa Monica Pier in California to Yorktown Beach in Virginia. The 20-year-old will use the physical challenge as a way to raise money for The Oddballs Foundation.

He decided to raise money for the charity after learning at Newcastle University how many men are affected by testicular cancer. Along the way, James will meet people from the United States who have overcome the disease.

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The challenge was originally set to take place over 40 days, but has now dropped to 38. James said he was unable to travel to Los Angeles over the weekend due to testing positive for covid-19.

He will now travel to the West Coast of America on Saturday – the day he was supposed to start the challenge. James will start cycling on Monday May 30 but plans to finish on the same date – Thursday July 7.

James, who is in his second year of a geography and business degree, said: “I feel good these things are happening in the current climate and so it’s a bit more of a challenge. I was planning to do 170 miles in those two days so I’ll have to find them somewhere!

“I’m going to do free time rather than miles. I’ll be doing between seven and seven and a half hours a day on the bike. I’ve taken a look at the temperatures and that’s my biggest fear – the heat I I’m confident that as long as I keep my fluids under control, I can handle it.

“I traveled the UK coast to coast a few years ago, but I’ve never done anything on this scale. My family and friends are all a little nervous. I think once we get started, people will be a little more relaxed.”

James aims to cycle 3,800 miles in 38 days

James, who is from Hamsterley, County Durham, said he spent his weekdays studying in Newcastle and his weekends training for the challenge in Weardale and Teesdale.

He said that since he announced his intention to take on the challenge for The Oddballs Foundation, he had been contacted by people in the United States who wanted to share their experience with him.

James, who lives in Jesmond, said: “We had a conversation with one of the university ambassadors last year. It put into perspective the seriousness of testicular cancer. It is the most prevalent between the ages of 15 and 49. I personally have never talked about it and it’s something a lot of men don’t really like to talk about. I wanted to break the stigma and raise more awareness about it.

“I am in contact with a number of survivors, mostly in the United States. A number of them have messaged us saying we would like to meet and chat with you. number along the way. I didn’t really expect that. I think it will be really moving to hear their stories and their experience of cancer and I hope they will see what I am doing to raise awareness.

James will be accompanied along the route by his father David, who will be driving a motorhome across the country. The 58-year-old has already flown to Los Angeles on James’ bike and will make sure everything is ready for him to start the challenge on Monday. James added: “I’m confident I’ll be able to do it. I can’t wait to get to the end.”

Donations can be made for James’ fundraising challenge through his website People can follow his journey on his bikekingforballs Instagram page.

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