AN EXPERIENCED racing cyclist has died while attempting his third Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle challenge.
Terry Bell, 72, from Silverdale, was in the Scottish Highlands when he suffered a suspected heart attack while blogging about his journey in a guest house before setting out for another day in the saddle.
He was just two days away from completing the 874-mile challenge.
Now his son Martyn, 45, who lives in Bolton, has vowed to finish the charity ride off for him to coincide with Father’s Day on June 14 and 15.
“It is going to be unbelievably emotional and if I think about it too much I will just cry, but we’re the kind of family who get the job done,” said Martyn.
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Despite his father’s age, he was ‘fit and healthy’ and was used to big challenges such as cycle rides and walking holidays in the Alps, he told the Gazette.
“This has come completely out of the blue and has been an absolutely massive shock to us all,” said Martyn. “It’s just outrageous and one of those horrific things.”
Father-of-four Terry was completing the challenge in aid of Parkinsons UK, after a ‘very close lifelong friend’ died recently.
Setting off two weeks ago, he was cycling in a trio with friends – Bob Hamnett, 71, from Silverdale, and John Fitzgerald, 68, from Storth. They had dubbed themselves the Mogils (Mad Old Gits in Lycra).
Martyn said because his dad had done the charity cycle twice before, half way through the planned 16 to 18 day ride he decided to extend his own route by passing through the Highlands.
The evening before his death, Terry enjoyed a meal of haggis and sausage at a local pub near the guest house where he was staying at Fortrose.
On going to bed he told the staff he would be up at 8am and in the morning got his gear on.
The sportsman was docu-menting the journey by blogging, taking photos and filming with a small head camera.
He was 90 per cent of the way through his blog on May 5 at about 8am when the suspected heart attack struck – and he was found by staff minutes later propped up against the pillow, said his son.
Martyn, who is a triplet and brother to Caroline Moore, Alison Cooke and older sister Janine Bell, said he would also finish the blog.
The grandfather-of-five had recently been tested by a heart surgeon at his sports coaching business which he founded after retiring 10 years ago.
Terry and his wife Sue, who will be 70 tomorrow (Friday), moved to Silverdale as Mr Bell often rode from his Salford home to the area on his own when he was young.
“He and his pals would travel all over,” said Martyn.
The former engineer moved to Silverdale from Cornwall and almost immed-iately started coaching in a shed in his garden.
Martyn said: “My dad’s passion was to help young athletes get into sport cycling so he set up in a shed, organised sportives and raised money from all sorts of things.
“He wanted to give people the opportunity to get into cycling and he got youngsters competing at national level and into Olympic development programmes.”
Martyn, who is an athlete himself and competes at GB level, said the Mercury Performance Coaching business based near Junction 35 of the M6 had grown, with franchises in Glasgow and Leeds.
To donate money towards Terry’s Parkinsons UK fund visit http://www.justgiving.com/TerryBell