Huntingdon police officers’ moped adventure

SIX intrepid officers from Cambridgeshire police have completed a challenge worthy of Top Gear’s Clarkson, Hammond and May – a moped trip to the south of France and back.

SIX intrepid officers from Cambridgeshire police have completed a challenge worthy of Top Gear’s Clarkson, Hammond and May – a moped trip to the south of France and back.

When Sam Thompson, 28, and five colleagues – Steve Croft, Mark Joslin, Pete Mills, Dave Moore and Adam Bagulay – from Huntingdon police station, announced in April that they planned to ride the 1,600miles from Huntingdon to Montpellier and back in five days, they had no idea of how arduous the journey would turn out.

Not only were there breakdowns and punctures to contend with on their adventure, but there were also torn ligaments.

Sam, of Tamar Close, St Ives, said: “The six of us met at Huntingdon police station fuelled and ready for the 1,668 miles that lay ahead of us.

“We rode away from the station at 5am on Monday, May 9 and managed to make it about 50metres from the station before the first of many breakdowns.”

Six breakdowns later the group finally made it to Dover for the ferry to Calais.

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But on Tuesday morning the six quickly became five when one of the bikes broke down, could not be repaired, and Steve Croft had to hire a car to bring him back to Huntingdon.

“On the Tuesday we battled on. We were so far behind schedule that we knew we had to ride through the night to make up for lost time.

“It was freezing cold and the altitude went up to 1,200m, so the bikes started to slow down with there being less oxygen in the air.

“We also had to stick together because the headlights on the mopeds weren’t great as we made our way up the mountains in the darkness.”

The decent down the mountain decent near Mende in the south of France was precarious with just a small wall separating the riders from a sheer drop to the Mediterranean.

“It took some brilliant riding to make it down the mountain,” Sam said. “With Montpellier in sight we gritted our teeth for the last leg of the journey and made it at about 7am on Wednesday.”

However, there was no time to celebrate. With only a few hours to repair the moped and re-fuel the riders, the five men hit the road again for the journey home, which proved just as testing, plagued by mechanical problems and fatigue.

Trouble struck again only 30 miles from home. Near Royston, Sam came off his moped and tore his knee ligaments.

But “I wasn’t going to give up this close to home” he said. “We got the bike upright – luckily it started straight away – and I rode the last 30 miles back home.”

Just two of the original riders managed to make it back to Huntingdon ... the other four succumbed to mechanical failure.

“Adam and I made it back at about 7am on the fifth day, exactly 99 hours, 21 breakdowns, four recoveries, five McDonalds, 20 petrol stops later,” Sam said.

Their efforts raised �1,300 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Chris Donaldson, the charity’s area fundraising manager, said: “This is a fantastic effort from all the riders. The charity is proud to be the beneficiary of such an adventure.

“Their support will help to keep us flying seven days a week for the people of the region.”

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