Flint Clarke


Fundraising for Tom's Trust
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Participants: Matthew Clarke (Dad)
Tom's Trust

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RCN 1183559
We provide mental health support to children with brain tumours


Scratch report (from Dad)
I am sad to report that I have made the decision to pull out of the race.

Day one:
We left Lyon on dusty cycle paths in the rain. The rain delivered the sandy dust to all parts of the bike and left it there to cause trouble, especially the drive train.
After 2 hours, Flint’s chain jammed badly. We had to break it and fit a new pin. A while later it jammed again, but we managed to remove it without having the break it. We made some gear adjustments and carefully moved on.

Soon after Flint’s gears went into crash protection mode. He lost half his gears. Once we realised the issue we reset everything and managed to fix the problem.

Within 50km my rear brake totally failed, most probably due to a hydraulic leak. This creates a risk, but the front was working fine. The biggest risk would be a front tyre blow out at this point, as I would have needed rear braking for a controlled stop. We pushed on.

As night began to fall I noticed that I had almost completely lost my front brake. I found this out on a descent. Given that my rear was totally non-functional. It was a concern. We managed to come to a safe stop. Front brake was 20%. Rear brake could catch maybe 5% if I pumped it several times to build pressure in the hydraulics. Flint was worried for my safety. I would not have allowed him to ride this way. This was my risk. I explained to Flint exactly where our medical evacuation insurance documents were, confirmed his plan in case of an accident, and we rode on 50km to the hotel into darkness.

I tried to breathe life into my brakes for hours at the hotel. Rear was useless, but I brought the front back to 50%.

Despite the mechanical woes, spirits remained high, and pace was good.

Several bike shops were advertised as open in Grenoble. We routed through the city hoping to affect repairs and buy supplies or to hire a bike. Everything was closed. We called all the shops; nobody responded. We pushed on. We covered good ground until we came across roadworks. 10m of gravel. I asked Flint if we should make efforts to avoid it, but we decided it wasn’t worth the worry. This was the turning point of the ride. I got a large sidewalk gash in my rear tyre. We made all efforts to repair the (tubeless) tyre, including tyre sealant, tyre anchovies/worms, and superglue. We were forced to fit an inner tube, patch (tyre-boot) the gash with a piece of tyre from toolkit. We pressed on. As dusk fell the repair failed, the inner tube failing at the weak spot. 32km to hotel, cold and with 10mins of dusk light remaining, we fitted another inner tube, and pushed on into darkness, expecting to face a hike a bike. We reached our hotel, and as we sat at a snack bar eating, the second inner tube died. We were extremely lucky to have reached safety.

I spent hours carefully patching inners and rebooting the tyre. I attempted to fit tubeless, without success. I put the inner in again, expecting future failure.

Day 3
It was too risky to start in darkness. We left at dawn. We discussed the option of pushing through the night to ride for 36 hours straight to reach the finishers’ party. We set all electronics to minimum, preparing for rationing through a night of riding. We bought enough food to last us 500km.

The repair held, until evening. It failed, a couple km from a village. Hopes were dashed. We limped on to find a chambre d’hotes, and begged for a bed.
I repaired everything again, fitting a purpose made tyre boot. The tyre held pressure. We had one patch left. We set our alarm for 0345, and discussed options for being stranded at night.

Day 4
I woke Flint at 0345, opened the window to verify the freezing temperatures and asked Flint if he’d like another hour in bed. He knew very well that we were facing a high risk of being stranded in the cold darkness. He insisted we push on.
We rode 30km, the inner tube failed again at the tyre weak spot, it was 0530 and we knew we were not able to finish. I insisted that we scratch (withdraw). I affected the last repair we had, switching the inners and we limped to the next town 15km away. We got off the bikes, I hugged him, and cried, mourning his lost opportunity, due to my failure to keep the bikes running, and elated with pride for the manner in which he had conducted himself.

From my often considered excessive toolkit, which I’ve carried for 35,000km with minimal need, during our 800km we’d used:

6 patches
2 spare inner tubes
2 tyre worms (ineffective)
diy tyre boot (cut old tyre)
park tool specific tyre boot
dry chain lube x 10
wet chain lube x 4
chain pin
valve core remover
replacement valve core

Being the Easter weekend there was not a single bike shop open the whole time, despite our efforts to find one.

We took risks. We had some misfortune, but good luck too. We relied on ourselves, and supported each other. I feel it was a worthwhile endeavour, and I hope that those who have supported our cause do not feel that we have fallen short of our mission; to suffer and endure.

73 riders signed up for this event, 26 currently show as having pulled out. We remain in front of several riders, despite spending the morning in a hotel after scratching. Given the vast amount of time lost to mechanical issues, this speaks volumes to the pace at which Flint has been riding. Our failure to finish is in no way a reflection on him. He has competed with men and women, strong in every sense, and he has held his own. On day one we were in 18th position before the bikes let us down, and midpack by nightfall.

My name is Flint Clarke. I am 14 years old. My little sister suffers from a brain tumour. 

I am fundraising for Tom's Trust, because of the help they give to children with brain tumours and their families. 

I am cycling The Unknown Race in support of Tom's Trust


starting on 7 April from Lyon, France with my Dad. This is an unsupported ultra endurance cycling event of approximately 1,000km. I am the only entrant who is not over 18. This will be my first ever ultra. The location of our first checkpoint (CP1) will be announced an hour before the race start, and then the CP2 details will be given at CP1. The final CP will be back at the start line. We have no idea where we are going.

MY MISSION IS TO SUFFER AND TO ENDURE. The completion rate for ultra events is often as low as 50%; they are very unpredictable.  We will be carrying basic survival kit, in case we find ourselves stranded at night, but we hope to find accommodation to snatch a few hours of sleep daily. Our progress will be published live, courtesy of GPS trackers. Further details will be added to this page at the time.

We will take our place at the start line alongside some inspiring icons of this sport, such as Ana Orenz, women's winnner of Race Across France, Transpyrenees, Paris Brest Paris, and 2 Volcano Sprint 


We don't expect to see them for very long. 

My bike was assembled, for Christmas, from used eBay parts, designed specifically for me to attempt this task. I would love to get to the finish line, but my goal is really just to give it everything I have.

About the charity

Tom's Trust

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1183559
Our clinical psychologists support children with brain tumours and their families from diagnosis, throughout treatment and thereafter, so they can reach their full potential and live their best lives.

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