Epic 5,600-mile bike fundraiser completed

A Royal Air Force officer based near Sleaford has completed an epic 5,600-mile charity fundraiser.

Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth, of RAF College Cranwell, took on the challenge to celebrate the 100th birthday of the last Dambuster, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, and to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.

The Dambusters Ride, as it was dubbed, was completed through a number of endurance rides and regular training sessions.

“Throughout my RAF career, I’ve known the RAF Benevolent Fund would be there for me if times got tough,” Mike said. “I’ve seen first-hand the incredible support they give not only to serving personnel but also to RAF veterans and their families.

“This cycling challenge has been so much fun and I feel honoured to be able to pay tribute to those who have gone before me in this way. This distance represents 100 miles for each crew member from the eight Lancaster bombers that did not return from the Dambusters raid.

“I also turned 56 this year, which makes my target especially fitting! I am an enthusiastic recreational cyclist and member of the Grantham-based Witham Wheelers Cycling Club; but this challenge has taken my riding to new levels of endurance.”

On Wednesday, Battle of Britain Day, Mike donned his cycle helmet for the final time in the challenge and cycled 160 miles from Lincoln’s International Bomber Command Centre to the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London.

His first endurance ride took place in May when he cycled 200 miles overnight to take part in a two-wheeled ‘flypast’ in front of George ‘Johnny’ Johnson. For this event, Mike set off at 10.01pm on May 16, the same time that Johnny’s aircraft, AJ-T, took off for the Dambusters’ raid 78 years before.

At the time of writing, £1,123 has been raised for the RAF Benevolent Ride through the effort – more than double Mike’s target.

n To add to the donations, visit rafbf.enthuse.com/pf/mike-ainsworth