AS a celebration of retirement and in defiance of old age" David Penny has set off on a pan-continental cycle ride cross the entire USA mainland - a distance of some 4,000 miles. David s epic journey is sure to be a great adventure, but he is coupling th

AS a celebration of retirement and in defiance of "old age" David Penny has set off on a pan-continental cycle ride cross the entire USA mainland - a distance of some 4,000 miles.David's epic journey is sure to be a great adventure, but he is coupling this with a fund raising effort for the North Devon Hospice, where his wife Jenny is a community nurse specialist, supporting patients and families at home, and his brother Mike is its fundraising lottery manager.So he knows well the incredible work of the hospice locally and that it costs more than £3 million to run.David is making his trip with an American and an Australian he has only "met" through the Internet."Four thousand miles together will be the test of how well you can get to know a pen pal," he joked.David said: "The route takes me from San Francisco on the west coast to Yorktown on the east coast. With sight-seeing visits en route there will be no change from 4,000 miles. "However, to make it challenging, we are camping and hauling over 50lbs of gear. To make it even more of a challenge we are cycling straight into the Rockies and over passes in Colorado that will exceed 12,000 feet in height! Then there are the deserts and a whole lot more hills and road, road, road. I am told the scenery will be stunning."Brother Mike is right behind him. "Dave has always been up for a challenge and once it's in his head he has to see it through," he said. "I'm amazed that a man in his 60s can undertake something so great. It's not just the distance involved, but also sleeping under canvas for three months, extreme weather conditions and no back-up team!"David headed off last Thursday to meet his fellow compatriots on this journey for the first time face to face. As with a previous fund raising venture when he raised over £1,000 for the hospice, David will entirely funded his trip so the maximum money raised can go to the hospice. He is hoping to raise more than £4,000 and has set up:- www.justgiving.com/acrazyoldguyonabike His progress can also be tracked and comments added on David's blog. Visit www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/longjourneysmallsteps