Matt Baker To Cycle A Rickshaw From Edinburgh To London In 8 Days - We Find Out Why (INTERVIEW)
The One Show presenter Matt Baker has taken on some pretty tough challenges in the past. From his days on Blue Peter, willfully grabbing whatever was thrown at him, to trekking between Kazakhstan and Mongolia without air transport for Around The World In 80 Days and, most gruelling of all, of course, his time as a Strictly Come Dancing contestant last year.
But now Baker is set to tackle his "most relentless" challenge yet, as he endeavours to cycle from Edinburgh to London in a rickshaw in just eight days for Children In Need.
Baker will start the arduous 484-mile journey on Friday 11th November from Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, pulling along the equivalent of 25 stone all the way to BBC Television Centre in time for The One Show's Children in Need special on Friday 18th November.
This would have been a tough task in spring, let alone in November, with the delightful British weather it usually brings, so whose idea was it to cycle from Scotland on a rickshaw?
"We all came up with it together. The One Show wanted something that could involve viewers, and with this we can have guests and celebrities on the back, and we'll be going through people's towns and cities. I thought it was a fun idea and thought cycling from Edinburgh to London seemed like a challenge," says Baker, sounding genuinely enthusiastic.
Sure, rickshaws are becoming common place around cities in the UK. You can hardly walk through London's Soho without someone offering you an expensive ride on one, but what made Baker want to ride the traditionally Asian vehicle?
"Just cycling a normal bike wouldn't have been as difficult and we wouldn't have been able to get someone in the back, which adds something unique.
"Rickshaws can only go at a certain speed. I went up a hill in it recently and snapped the chain twice. It's the cause you do it for that gets you through," explains the presenter, who's now a TV heartthrob after becoming the face of Countryfile, The One Show and baring his six pack on Strictly.
It's obvious he's not exactly out of shape, but surely a lot of training has to go into cycling so many miles with such a load behind you?
"Well I've cycled into work a few times and I'm doing a fitness programme, but I think time in the saddle is key, it's going to be eight hours a day that I'm sat on it."
Baker doesn't have any secret endurance methods he's planning to use - instead he feels it's a case of mind over matter.
"It's going to be tricky, I'm looking at a map on the wall now and the altitude goes up and down. I think it will take good concentration and not thinking about the pain in my legs."
He's certainly not naive about what's to come: "It's definitely going to be the most relentless thing I've done and it's going to be completely different.
"One of the hardest things will be the terrain and having people on the back. The weather will also be a major factor - I really hope it doesn't snow. I think the key is to get going."
Baker, who will carry a passenger at all times "when it's possible to do so", is a familiar fundraiser for the BBC's Children In Need, which supports projects working with disadvantaged children and young people in the UK.
"I started working on Blue Peter in 1999 and we always did something for Children In Need every year and I've done the Countryfile calendar. The One Show seemed the perfect opportunity to do something for Children In Need again."
The cause of this challenge is not the only thing that is familiar for him, he'll also pass his favourite spots in the North and his home county of Durham: "I went to uni in Edinburgh and I'll be going through my part of Durham and other areas that I quite like going through, but usually I travel in a car."
See Matt Baker's route summary below:
Day 1 Edinburgh to Hawick 53.5 Miles
Day 2 Hawick to Hexham 59.2 Miles
Day 3 Hexham to Barnard Castle 49.0 Miles
Day 4 Barnard Castle to York 70.6 Miles
Day 5 York to Lincoln 78.0 Miles
Day 6 Lincoln to Peterborough 73.2 Miles
Day 7 Peterborough to Cambridge 41.0 Miles
Day 8 Cambridge to London 59.3 Miles
To donate £5, text "MATT" to 70705, texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message, £5 will go to BBC Children in Need. Go to bbc.co.uk/pudsey for full terms and conditions You must be over 16 and ask the bill payer's permission