Two Metropolitan police officers cycling 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) to Cyprus to raise £10,000 for a children’s cancer charity have arrived in Turkiye as they start the final week of their epic bike ride.
PC Ceyhun ‘Jay’ Uzun and PC Ryan McKinlay left London on 23 September for the month-long journey, cycling across France, Switzerland, Italy and then Greece before arriving in Turkiye at the weekend.
The pair are making their way to Taşucu via Bursa, Ankara and Mersin, where they will catch a ferryboat to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. They are due to arrive in Girne on the morning of Saturday, 21 October, and will be escorted from there by local police and cyclists for the final 71km, to Aspava, Yedidalga in northwest Cyprus, for the finish.
The two police officers, who have taken a month’s unpaid leave from the Metropolitan Police to do the charity bike ride from London to Cyprus, gave editor Ipek Ozerim a call to update T-VINE readers on their progress.
“We’ve been planning this for a year,” Ceyhun said, who’s previously done shorter fundraising bike rides to Paris and Belgium, “but it’s still impossible to fully prepare for what you will encounter on the trip,” he added.
“On Day 4, I had a blowout, my tyre came off the rim and I crashed.”
Thankfully there was no serious damage and the two men could cycle on. They have set themselves a gruelling 100km target distance to cycle each day of their trip, with some days clearly easier than others.
The two men have had to cycle up steep hills in the warm European heat, while avoiding potholes as they navigate the regularly changing and totally unfamiliar terrain they are cycling across.
“Gulay [Ceyhun’s wife] and Ryan’s mum travel in a car behind us. They’re responsible for the route and all the logistics,” Ceyhun explained.
PC Uzun & PC McKinlay have arrived safely in #Türkiye 🇹🇷, cycling from the UK to #Cyprus to raise money for Tanyels Smile, a childrens cancer charity. Stay tuned with their journey by following!@metpoliceuk@MPSRTPC#Cancercharity #Charity #MetPolice #StaffSupport #Kibris pic.twitter.com/mCwUXqStUH
— Turkish Police Association 🇹🇷🇬🇧 (@met_tpa) October 11, 2023
The whole thing has taken on military-style precision planning and execution and, so far, the team remain on schedule to arrive in the TRNC on Saturday.
They’ve been aided by their continental ‘friends in blue’, receiving police escorts for part of their journey, which in turn is also helping to raise wider awareness about the cause they are cycling for.
For Ceyhun, the reason this 2,500 mile bike ride is clear: “in memory of my inspirational daughter and to raise money for kids in North Cyprus.”
He explains how, “Tanyel loved Aspava [a popular beach restaurant in Yedidalga] and they always looked after her. We have a home near there and she always loved going there, so it makes sense for us to end the ride there.”
— Turkish Police Association 🇹🇷🇬🇧 (@met_tpa) October 10, 2023
T-VINE asked Ryan why he chose to accompany Ceyhun, taking a month’s unpaid leave from work for such a tough challenge.
“Ceyhun is a friend as well as a work colleague,” he replied. “I’ve seen how hard it’s been for him and Gulay losing Tanyel. I’ve lost relatives and friends to cancer, including two uncles, and I lost my best friend to cystic fibrosis when we were both teenagers. Although, it wasn’t cancer, losing someone so young stays with you.
“I know what this ride meant to Jay [Ceyhun], so when he came up with the idea last year, I agreed. We’ve been planning it and training for a year,” Ryan added.
Although it’s been one of the toughest adventures either man has undertaken, the pair have also been able to enjoy breath-taking scenery as they’ve travelled through mountains, around lakes and other beautiful spots across Europe.
“We don’t know anyone who’s done this route cycling all the way through,” Ryan stated, which makes their journey that bit more special, but also difficult as they conquer all without the benefit of learning from others’ experience.
When asked what they’re looking forward to at the end of the ride, they say: “To reunite with family” and “hitting our target to help children with cancer.”
To date, 158 people have donated to their Justgiving pot, creating a total of £6,461, leaving them £3,539 short of their £10K target, which they hope to reach by Saturday. Click here if you would like to make a donation.
About Tanyel’s Smile
Tanyel’s Smile is a charity named after Ceyhun and Gulay Uzun’s daughter Tanyel, who tragically died from cancer in 2017 aged just 20 years old. She had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, a few days after turning 18.
Even when she was fighting cancer herself, the teenager from London was aware of the challenges other young people were facing and wanted to help through support and guidance to others on the teenage cancer unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital, to raising money for children in North Cyprus.
Of Turkish Cypriot heritage, Tanyel spent many holidays in North Cyprus and it was here she returned when she was in remission to stay in the family home in Yedidalga.
During a six week summer holiday, Tanyel saw first-hand how local children were suffering from cancer because they did not have the facilities and support that she had access to in the UK.
It was these experiences that drove her to want to help other young people battling cancer, a cause her parents have taken up in the wake of their amazing daughter’s death.
The bereaved parents have already raised thousands of pounds for Tanyel’s Smile, which supports children in the TRNC with cancer, but the trans-European bike ride is without doubt their most ambitious fundraising activity to date.