Cancer fundraising sea bike Channel crossing banned by the French


first_imgAndy Lang and friends constructing the sea bike The idea was simple, if somewhat madcap: pedal across the Channel on a tandem bicycle strapped to two canoes in tribute to a lifelong friend who died from cancer last year.But the French authorities were having none of it.Andy and Bradley Lang had to turn back halfway through their fundraising attempt on Monday – after being refused permission to take their “unorthodox craft” into French waters.The father and son team from Torquay, Devon, had intended to pedal the 22 miles from Dover to the French coast to raise money for Cancer Research UK following the death of Andy Lang’s friend Dominic Donoghue from an aggressive back tumour last year.However the ban meant they had to turn round on reaching French waters and pedal all the way back, landing at Folkestone after seven and a quarter hours non stop effort.“We had been hoping to go all the way across,” said Mr Lang, 50. “But the French introduced a ban on unorthodox craft going into their waters because they were fed up with rescuing people.“We applied for exceptional permission to cross, but were refused, which was a shame.“But we still pedalled the full distance, just that it was halfway there and back instead of all the way across. We are both completely knackered. My bottom really, really ached by the end of it and my legs and knees are still hurting.”Mr Lang, who runs a PVC doors and windows repair company, said he came up with the idea after Mr Donoghue’s death from the cancer, which his friend had initially thought was just back ache. By the time it was diagnosed it was too late.“We were lifelong friends. We went to school together, we’d go on holidays together,” said Mr Lang. “Dom had a tumour in his back and it spread. He fought it for six or seven months. When he died I had to do something  in his memory.“Everytime I felt a bit of pain as we pedalled across I thought of what he went through. And my son Brad would gee me along whenever I started complaining. We encouraged each other.” Andy Lang and his son Bradley, on their sea bike, named Dominic after their friend who died last year Andy Lang and his son Bradley, on their sea bike, named Dominic after their friend who died last year Andy Lang and friends constructing the sea bikecenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The pair enjoyed good conditions for their crossing – even managing to change the chain driving their pedal-powered propellor when it snapped several miles in.But they had to be constantly on their guard for the huge freight ships and ferries using one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.“Our support boat would track the movement of other craft and tell us to slow down or speed up so we could make sure we didn’t get too close. Going past the shipping containers was very intimidating, the noise they made was incredible.”France introduced its ban, known as Rule 126, in 2013, after they became fed up with rescuing eccentric adventurers attempting to make the crossing.The rules prevent ‘unorthodox craft’ that are ‘not adequate for deep-sea navigation in a heavy traffic area’, effectively banning such craft attempting the crossing from Britain.The rule put an end to a fine tradition of crossing the Channel by weird and wonderful ways, which began when William Hoskins did so on a bale of straw in 1862. The first crossing by bike came in 1883, when Terah Terry mounted a tricycle on a canoe body.However the authorities  still allow swimmers and their support craft to do so – as long as they register in advance – apparently believing that they pose less danger to other craft and themselves.Those who flout the rules face heavy fines or even prison if they have to be rescued for “endangering the lives of others”. Lieutenant Richard Duchet, of the French maritime authority Action de l’Etat en Mer, said: “Such crossings are forbidden by maritime decree purely for safety reasons to avoid accidents due to the density of traffic in this zone.”Only cross-Channel swimmers from Britain to France are tolerated for historic reasons if certified by the relevant British organisations and with our permission. However, even they must return immediately to UK waters after the crossing.”Lt Duchet added that while such crossings may have been a quaint, eccentric tradition in the past, “the sheer size and numbers of craft in the Channel bear no comparison to the situation a century ago”.Mr Lang, who has raised more than £3,600 so far, built his sea bike from scratch at a cost of several hundred pounds, adapting a normal tandem by attaching it to two canoes, with a rudder controlled by a wire attached to the front forks.”We had to give the Seabike a name to register it, so it is now officially called Dominic, which is lovely,” he said. “It was very touching to say that Dominic was crossing the Channel.”last_img

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