A grandad from South Tyneside who was diagnosed with diabetes is fighting back to fitness after taking on an epic cycling challenge.
Michael Harrison, 54, of Cleadon, is to cycle from Newcastle to London in a 24-hour ride in August.
The 310-mile challenge comes just months after Mr Harrison was diagnosed as being diabetic, overweight and with high blood pressure and he aims to average about 14 miles an hour over the seven stages.
Since then, he has changed his lifestyle and dedicated himself to getting fit.
So far, he has lost three stone in weight after joining Total Fitness Tribe, in Commercial Road, South Shields.
He now has the gruelling 24-hour ride in his sights, and the Nissan engineer – who is a father-of-four and grandfather-of-four – is raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
This is going to be a big challengeMichael Harrison
Mr Harrison said: “In September, I went on a routine trip to the doctors, and I was diagnosed as diabetic, overweight and generally ill. I decided to do something about it.
“This will be the first big challenge I’ve done, as the initial challenge was the getting fit part.
“I needed to get my blood sugar levels and weight back down to normal. It was about generally getting fit and healthy.
“It has worked out quite well with the help of the gym Total Fitness Tribe. I’ve lost three stones so far, and to get to 25 BMI, I’ve got one stone to go.
“You need a challenge and I was thinking about the Great North Run.
“Running a half-marathon sounds really tough, but it’s two hours, which isn’t too long.
“This sounded a lot more interesting for me. This is going to be a big challenge.”
Mr Harrison has raised more than £200 so far for Macmillan, and will be one of around 500 people taking part in the event, on August 20 and 21.
He has set himself the target of raising £1,000, and is also aiming to finish the course within two hours of the time allocated.
He added: “I’d like to do it in 22 hours. To set a quicker time than that as a goal would be silly for me.
“It’s a fair challenge to even cycle for 22 hours, without having a big distance like that to travel as well.
“I know that some of them will take off from the start and will be done while we’re still in Leicester, but it’s not about setting a really fast time for me. I’m just happy to be taking part.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/Michael-Harrison19
Diabetes is a common life-long health condition.
There are 3.5million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 549,000 people who have the condition, but don’t know it.
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.
This is because the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells or the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
Insulin is the hormone produced that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy.
Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver.
People with diabetes cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and can’t be used as fuel.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.