CYCLING the length of the country is a gruelling task at the best of times but Neil Bradbrook decided to undertake the challenge a year after almost losing his life.

A road accident in April last year left Mr Bradbrook, originally from Heaton, unable to train for several months but he was determined to make the 11-day journey to mark his 40th birthday.

Unsatisfied by the typical route Land’s End to John O’Groats course, he decided to include added places of interest from his life to push his route above the 1,000-mile mark.

The road accident occurred in of Buck-inghamshire, where he now lives, when he was involved in a head-on collision with a turning car.

“I was knocked down like a rag doll and knocked out completely,” he said. “Witnesses didn’t know if I was dead or not.

“Obviously you’re never happy about these things but you have to put a different perspective on it. I was lucky to be alive.”

He completed his journey, which was in aid of the Children’s University, on May 27.

He added: “Our country is amazing, the diversity of scenery is beautiful and I was completely blown away. It’s great to feel like you’ve done something special.”

He has only a week’s respite to enjoy before embarking on a 24-hour slog from London to Paris with Channel Four’s Krishan Guru-Murthy for the Duchenne Children’s Trust.

The Children’s University promotes social mobility by providing learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours to children aged seven to 14.

A spokesman for the organisation said that they greatly admired Mr Bradbrook’s courage.

He said: “Neil’s challenge is most certainly a notable one and will hopefully encourage young people to get out on their bikes and most importantly remind them to be safe and wear a helmet.”