A GROUP of friends aiming to raise thousands of pounds on a charity cycle ride looked on in horror as one of their riders was airlifted to hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack.
Neil Smith, of the Red Lion Adventurers, from Barton under Needwood, was hospitalised after blacking out and falling off his bike during an attempt to tackle a 172-mile coast-to-coast trek to mark St Giles Hospice’s 30th anniversary.
His shocked pals couldn’t believe their eyes as the 53-year-old dropped in front of their eyes only hours after they began the trek from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast.
A spokesman for the Red Lion Adventures told the Mail: “We set off from Barton with a host of people, bikes and vans in tow.
“On the first day as we made our way through the Lake District, Neil just fell off his bike as we were making our way to Penrith.
“Neil was cycling in the middle of us all and just dropped.
“He seemingly blacked out and so we called for a paramedic who, as soon as he arrived, called for the air ambulance to move him.
“We could not believe what had happened and after a wait of around one-and-a-half hours we started back off on our trip as Neil headed for hospital.”
The Great North Air Ambulance revealed that it had been called to attend a man who was believed to have suffered from a heart attack.
The 22 remaining bikers decided to soldier on as their friend headed to hospital for tests but disaster struck for a second time when Red Lion landlord Mick Heathcote somersaulted over his handle bars at 30mph – breaking a bone in his neck.
He heroically battled on and completed the second day of cycling before being driven back home to Burton’s Queen’s Hospital for treatment.
The spokesman added: “On the second day, Mick came off his bike and broke a bone in his neck.
“However, he carried on cycling for the second day before heading home for treatment – he is alright now and is probably best described as walking wounded.
Despite all the problems, the group managed to finish the trek to Robin Hood’s Bay, near Whitby.
The cyclist managed to raise more than £7,000 as a result of the trek, which took place last month.
After a two-day stay in hospital, doctors revealed that they are still awaiting tests results over what led to Mr Smith’s collapse but it was suggested that one explanation could be exhaustion.
Anyone who would like to donate should head online to or www.justgiving.com/Red-Lion-C2C