A PENSIONER will mark his 75th birthday with a 1,000-mile cycling trip.

Robert Oliver, from Darlington, is gearing up for a charity challenge that will see him cycle from Land?s End to John O?Groats.

The 74-year-old is undeterred by the gruelling nature of the ride, which began as a bet between friends.

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Mr Oliver said he would cycle the 1,000 miles if his friend lost three stone in weight and has subsequently been training every day since January to prepare.

He will be joined by four other riders ? Martin Goodwill, Doug Sweeney, David Harper and nephew David Cheesebrough ? in his bid to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which helps cancer patients across the region.

Following the longest stage of the challenge Mr Oliver will stop off in Kendal to join family and friends in a celebration of his 75th birthday.

He said: ?The training has been extremely difficult, we have spent a lot of time preparing, but I?m more than ready for whatever obstacles are put in my way.

?It will be very rewarding, but most importantly money will be raised for a fantastic cause. I admired Sir Bobby Robson from a young age and even remember watching him play for England.

?I have always enjoyed getting out on my bike, but never thought I?d be taking on something of this magnitude. The other members of the team have been great and I certainly wouldn?t be attempting this without their support.

?With my 75th birthday taking place halfway through the challenge it really does prove that age is only a number.?

Donations can be made at justgiving.com/lejog75