Retired teacher Ian Toulson is raising money for his village church with his latest long-distance bike ride.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ian Toulson is preparing for his latest long-distance ride. Picture: GREGG BROWN.Ian Toulson is preparing for his latest long-distance ride. Picture: GREGG BROWN.

Recognisable by his red socks, cycling enthusiast Ian Toulson is embarking on his latest long-distance ride to benefit the village of Walsham-le-Willows.

The retired Thurston Community College teacher has set himself the challenge of cycling 2,500 miles over seven weeks - an average of 50 miles a day - to raise cash to refurbish or purchase a new organ for St Mary’s Church.

Dubbed An Organised Cycle Ride, the route will include stops at some 33 cathedrals around mainland Britain.

This is not the first time Mr Toulson, who has recently celebrated his 70th birthday, has taken on an ambitious quest to support good causes.

Dating back to 1989, he has pedalled thousands of miles, including across America and along the Rhine, Danube and Vistula, and raised more than £30,000.

Mr Toulson, known as Red Sox, said he has been averaging 23 miles a day to gear up for his latest challenge, which begins on April 13.

“Suffolk is terribly flat, but I try and find as many ups as I can. You have got to. I’m going to go to Scotland, I’m going to Yorkshire, to Wales, the south-west - not right down to proper Devon and Cornwall.

“I have got to think hills. I know there’s one I’m going to walk up, just north of Brechin [in Scotland].”

Mr Toulson’s route will pass by a number of friends, who he said have kindly offered to put him up, and for much of the ride he has booked up accommodation, taking away the uncertainly of finding shelter after a day of cycling.

“I know exactly what my route is,” he said. “I have planned it down to the last detail. I was thinking I would leave it to chance as to where I would end up each night, but then I decided not.”

Mr Toulson, who lives just outside Walsham-le-Willows, is looking to raise as much money as possible for a new or refurbished organ, with 75% of funds raised going to this project and 25% going towards general church maintenance costs.

“The church is the focal point of the village. People think the pub or village hall is, but the church is; people get married, they get their children Christened, they more than likely pass through in a little box at the end.”

Mr Toulson launched his ride at St Mary’s annual concert by the Epiphany Singers who gave a rendition of a song he had written specially all about his challenge.

To sponsor him find a form by seeing here.