SOUTH Shields superstar Joe McElderry has told of his epic cross-country charity cycle challenge.
The 22-year-old, and 15 of his friends and family members, took on a 150-mile coast-to-coast cycle to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The X Factor and Popstar to Operastar champ set off from Whitehaven, in Cumbria on Friday, and ended the gruelling battle, dubbed the TCTC2C, with the traditional dipping of the wheels at Sandhaven Beach, in South Shields, on Sunday.
Joe was greeted by a crowd of cheering fans as he rode into the car park at the Sand Dancer pub, in Sea Road.
He said: “It was brilliant and so much fun. It was hard and a massive challenge but it was great fun and such an amazing experience.
“To have my friends and family there with me, doing something to raise money for an amazing charity, it was just fantastic.”
He added: “There was about 300 people waiting here when we got back and it was just an amazing atmosphere. I’ve just been overwhelmed by the support.
“All along the way, we’ve been getting tweets and lovely messages from people spurring us on and it really kept us going.
“We had meeting points for the fans too and loads of people came along to cheer us on, and I’m massively grateful for all the support, and of course all the donations that people have made.
“Being able to finish the coast-to-coast in my hometown, with all those people there to greet us, was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”
Donations poured in for the group and Joe also auctioned off his Merida Crossway 100 bike, which was donated by AS Cycles, in St Aidan’s Road, South Shields, and the jacket he wore for the challenge - raising a further £1,000.
All together, they raised around £10,000 for the charity, of which Joe is a regional patron.
He said: “Everyone that did the ride has been affected by cancer in some way, and I think everyone has really.
“A couple of the people on the ride are nurses too and we’ve all seen what the money can do.
“I’ve visited the unit and seen it first hand, so no matter how hard the ride got, the thought of what the money is going to do kept me going.
“It was a tough challenge but knowing that we’ve raised that much for the charity just means the world to me - I couldn’t be happier.”
Joe also met up with some of the young people that the charity helps, and presented them with goodie bags, at a party in the Sand Dancer.