AN UNCLE from near Helston who wanted to do a one-off bike ride from John o’ Groats to Land’s End and raise £10,000 for Cancer Research UK is now about to embark upon his fourth major cycling challenge, and top the £200,000 mark.

Mark Bayliss, 61, and brother-in-law James Van Cleef, 54, from Essex, had planned that James’s son, Adam Van Cleef, be the support driver during their first ride.

Adam had previously overcome B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, having been diagnosed when he was 14.

In November 2016 Adam was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer, synovial sarcoma, and in June 2018, when the first ride was scheduled, Adam sadly died, aged 23.

Mark and James were determined to see through the project, and would complete their cycling just three months later, smashing their fundraising target in the process.

Having seen the potential to make an even greater difference, the bike ride would become an annual event.

The next was a 500-mile pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 2019.

Falmouth Packet: Adam at a family weddingAdam at a family wedding

Plans to pedal a monumental 3,400 miles from the east to the west coast of the USA, James’s home country, were put on hold because of the pandemic, but a 500-mile cycle around the Scottish Highlands and north coast took place instead.

The America ride remains on hold and on Friday, 3 September the duo will set off from Truro on a route covering 21 of the 42 English cathedrals.

They will finish in Bradford on Wednesday, 22 September and plan to cover the other half next year.

Mark and James have received fantastic support, including from Diversity dance troupe member Jordan Banjo, and this year’s ride comes as the total raised in memory of Adam approaches £200,000.

Mark, a former estates director at Falmouth University and teacher at Mullion School, who has lived near Helston, with wife Karen, for 21 years, explained how Adam had left an enduring purpose and legacy.

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Mark said: "When we got to Land’s End I said to James ‘I’d give this all up in a moment, but Adam’s given me the time of my life’.

"At the end of the Spain ride I said it was the second time Adam had given me the time of my life.

"It was the same for Scotland.

"Finishing the cathedrals will be the fourth and fifth times Adam has given me the time of my life."

"Adam’s story is about how he lived and endured.

"He lived despite his cancer. He continued studies at university.

"He was the captain of a university fencing team and, though he couldn’t compete because of cancer, loved to encourage his team, and see them do their best.

"He met with friends, he was involved with his church, he played music and because of his deep love for Rachel they got married, and had six weeks as husband and wife.

"Adam’s life didn’t stop. Each day was a gift, an opportunity for him to bless others.

"He never defined himself by his cancer, but always by how blessed he was.

"This became an example for anyone that knew and loved him."

Sophie Barber, Cancer Research UK fundraiser in Cornwall, said: "We’re always delighted when anyone chooses to raise money for Cancer Research UK and it’s, of course, particularly poignant when the fundraising is done in memory of someone who’s died from cancer.

Falmouth Packet: Mark (left) and JamesMark (left) and James

"Mark and James are making an exceptional effort, for which we couldn’t be more grateful, and what they’re doing is such a wonderful way to honour Adam’s memory.

"I know just how generous the people of Cornwall can be and I encourage as many as possible to support James and Mark, in turn supporting us to beat cancer.

"The past year, more than any other, has proven the value of investing in science and medical research, and what can be achieved by working together."

To show your support for James and Mark go to