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“Knights’ quest” for Virgin Trains cycle fans

Press Release   •   Feb 29, 2016 13:21 GMT

Cycle enthusiasts from Virgin Trains have today launched a quest to achieve a “knighthood” and raise money for charity at York railway station.

They are attempting to complete what has been described as the world’s most difficult indoor cycle challenge, featuring ten gruelling one hour “extreme spins” back-to-back to become “Knights of Sufferlandria”.

And they have invited members of the York public to compete with them with five minute mini races to support their fundraising efforts for Railway Children.

The would-be “knights” started their quest at 8am this morning - and they will need to keep up the pace while completing stages of famous races such as the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. They are using spinning machines which are linked up to race videos on the Sufferfest extreme cycle website.

Iain Ferguson, Head of Safety & Environment at Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “This is a unique challenge as it puts you in ten different race scenarios from the hardest and most famous cycle races in the world.

“You also have to do ten of these one hour challenges in a row with only ten minute intervals between them for a rest and, almost as importantly, time to get something to eat to keep your energy levels up.”

Iain, 38, a keen cyclist from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, has been joined at the event by fellow York-based colleague Jim Harbridge.

Iain added: “While we’ll join an elite band of knights from around the world if we manage to complete the challenge, it’s great to be able to do something for Railway Children. In return for a donation to the charity, people can join in and see if they can race us, or match our power and pace during short five minute bursts.”

David McQuillen, founder and “Chief Suffering Officer” of the Sufferfest website, said: “The Knighthood of Sufferlandria is the world’s most difficult indoor cycling challenge. It requires incredible endurance, concentration and physical strength to get through more than 10 hours of high-intensity intervals.

“We’re thrilled that Iain and Jim can use the Knighthood to inspire others and help raise money for charity.”

Terina Keene, Chief Executive of Railway Children, said: “I’m delighted that staff from Virgin Trains are taking part in Sufferfest in support of Railway Children. We’re so grateful to them and whatever they can raise will help us to change the lives of vulnerable children at great risk on the streets in India, East Africa and here in the UK. We wish the team all the very best for Monday!”


Editor’s Notes

  • Picture features (left to right) Iain Ferguson and Jim Harbridge from Virgin Trains joined by Dave Jackson from Hull.
  • The Sufferfest is a website which features downloadable training videos of officially licensed footage from professional cycle races, including the Tour de France, the Tour of Flanders and the Road World Championships. Visit:
  • The Sufferfest has created a unique challenge which includes completing ten one hour extreme spins, based on the race videos. On completion of this challenge, cyclists can become anointed as “Knights of Sufferlandria”.
  • Railway Children is an international children’s charity which fights for vulnerable children who live alone and are at risk on the streets. Visit:

About Virgin Trains East Coast

Virgin Trains East Coast is the brand name of InterCity Railways Ltd (ICR), which is owned by Stagecoach Group (90%) and Virgin Group (10%). Virgin Trains East Coast began operating services on the East Coast Main Line on 1 March 2015, serving key UK cities including London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. In November 2014 the Department for Transport awarded ICR a new franchise until at least 31 March 2023.

Virgin Trains East Coast is committed to delivering a high speed, high quality service with new services, faster and more frequent journeys, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. More than £140m is to be invested in delivering improved service and a more personalised travel experience for customers.

Visit the Virgin Trains East Coast Media Centre at: for the latest news and images.

Contact the Virgin Trains Press Office: or call us on 0845 000 3333.

About Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned by Virgin Group (51%) and Stagecoach (49%). Virgin Trains has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. In June 2014 the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded VRG a new franchise until at least April 2017.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. We provide the most frequent long-distance rail service in Europe (London - Manchester and London – Birmingham, both every 20 minutes).

Since 1997, Virgin Trains has introduced over 70 new trains at a cost of £1.5 billion. The service carries more than 34.5 million passengers a year and Virgin Trains employs approximately 3,290 staff.

Virgin Trains customers consistently rate the company as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Passenger Survey (NPS) commissioned by industry watchdog “Passenger Focus”.

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