Naval officers’ epic bike ride recreates dramatic dash delivering news of Trafalgar

Topic: People Storyline: Fundraising

Two Royal Navy officers plan to cycle from Falmouth to London in just 38 hours – beating the time taken by coach and horse in 1805 to deliver news of victory at Trafalgar.

Commander Pascal Patterson and Lieutenant Commander Dan Waskett are recreating the epic dash from Cornwall to the capital carried out by Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotière.

Averaging around seven miles an hour in legs of ten to 15 miles apiece between coaching inns, he arrived at the Admiralty in the heart of London after the 271-mile in a succession of horse-drawn coaches after 38 hours, breathlessly announcing: “We have gained a great victory. But we have lost Lord Nelson.”

Two centuries later, the two aviators – who joined the Royal Navy on the same day in 2005 and have been firm friends ever since – hope to beat his time to raise awareness of mental health in the Armed Forces.

Their ‘race the messenger’ ride follows the route Lapenotière took as much as possible – taking the cyclists through Truro, over Bodmin Moor, Okehampton, Exeter, Honiton, Bridport, Dorchester, Salisbury, Basingstoke and Staines, ending in Whitehall some time before midnight on Saturday April 2.

“Both Dan and I will cycle the entire distance – side by side – entirely unsupported, which means no support crew or vehicle. Just us and the very long, open road,” explained 40-year-old Pascal, who serves with the UK Strategic Command.

“Our challenge is firmly in the ‘ultra-endurance’ cycling category. To give an idea, the cycling equivalent of running a marathon is cycling 100 miles, we will be doing almost three times that distance in a compressed timescale and without support.

“Day 2 is when the pain – mental and physical – will really set in, as the cumulative effect of all the miles cycled really starts to impact, so from the 200 mile point onwards, which we would expect to hit at lunchtime on Saturday.”

The two-day ride – which will begin at Falmouth’s Trafalgar Way plaque at The Moor at 9.30am on April 1 – is a precursor to a much greater challenge when the naval officers plan to pedal 5,000 kilometres across the USA this summer.

They’ve already completed Land’s End to John O'Groats in a fortnight, and hope to cycle between San Diego in California and St Augustine in Florida in just 35 days with the goal of raising £35k for the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity, providing mental health support to serving personnel, veterans and their families.

“A great friend of mine died in military service not long ago, the charity offered wonderful support to his family, during what was an incredibly difficult time,” said 39-year-old Dan, who trains helicopter Observers – navigators/sensors/weapons specialists – flying Merlin helicopters with 824 Naval Air Squadron, based at Culdrose in Helston, Cornwall.

“I see the rides as my way of saying thank you, and hopefully helping them in turn to help someone else in need.”

You can follow the two riders’ efforts at or on Instagram: @starsandspokes. And you can donate to their cause via 

I see the rides as my way of saying thank you, and hopefully helping them in turn to help someone else in need.

Lieutenant Commander Dan Waskett