WHEN nine-year-old Peebles lad Louis Thornley jumped onto his bike last Saturday it wasn’t to experience the thrills on mountain bike trails, or to proudly lift a trophy to cheering crowds at a mountain bike event.

He did it for homeless people living on the street, whose plight had moved him to take action.

It would prove to be the biggest challenge of his young life so far – two days, 128 kilometres and 2000 metres pedalling uphill.

But the young biker pushed through the pain raising £1,595 for charity Shelter Scotland which gave Louis a feeling no amount of podium glory could fill.

The Priorsford Primary pupil set off with his dad Gavin cycling from Inverness to Fort William with an overnight stop at Invermoriston.

It was a journey filled with memories for father and son, who stopped to draw breath and take in the glorious views over Loch Ness before the thrill of the descent into Fort Augustus.

But it wasn’t all sunset, scenery and feeling the rush of the wind behind them. Louis said it was the hardest bike ride he had ever done.

He told the Peeblesshire News: “It was pretty exhausting and on the second day I was really tired. The uphill parts were so hard, but then my dad kept saying to me ‘remember why we are doing it’. That gave me the strength to keep going, and also knowing that once we had cycled those hard climbs up we could look forward to the downhill parts.

“The whole experience was great and I didn’t expect to raise so much money. It is something that I’ll always remember doing with my dad.”

Asked why he chose to raise funds for Shelter Scotland, he said: “No-one should be homeless. I don’t like seeing people living on the streets, no roof over their head or enough money for food.”

Biking is in Louis’ blood and his passion for the sport started at the age of two when he was whizzing around his hometown on a balance bike.

The young mountain biker has come a long way since then, having picked up awards in the Scottish Cross Country Series (SXC) and the annual Dirt Crit event at Glentress.

There was no podium or shiny silver cup this time, but Louis said his latest biking adventure gave him a feeling that no trophy ever has. “If anything it was better than getting a medal or trophy. I guess it was like getting a trophy for the homeless and you can’t top that.”