TWO local businessmen are putting an unusual twist on a classic cycling challenge.

Andrew Donald, a partner with Woolley & Wallis, and chartered accountant Chris Saltrick will be cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats next month, but will be taking on the 1,000-mile trip on antique Penny Farthing bikes.

The friends, who are both from Fordingbridge, decided to take on the challenge as both their families have been affected by cancer – Mr Saltrick’s mother has battled non-hodgkins lymphoma and Mr Donald lost his mother to bowel cancer. They hope to raise between £10,000 and £15,000 for Cancer Research UK.

Mr Saltrick said: “We have both completed long distance rides, but never on bikes like these. It’s almost impossible to train for an event like this because even if we have a couple of hours to train, we can only cover about 20 miles.”

The pair will set off on May 23 and they are hoping to complete the challenge in 13 days. They will be riding original 1880s bikes which have solid tyres, no gears and no functional brakes.

Mr Donald said: “It is very hard to pedal uphill, and on some hills impossible without breaking the bikes or ourselves. Once that 57in wheel starts to spin on downhill it is impossible to slow down, there is only so much one can resist the fixed pedals.

“We are undoubtedly going to get very sore. We are having to pick a route that sadly includes more main roads as they tend to have more gradual gradients and are less windy.”

He said the age of the bikes mean they will break often and any spares have to be individually made or may have to be improvised on the trip.

Luckily, both men are keen cyclists and experienced on Penny Farthings.

They have already gained sponsorship from Woolley & Wallis, Primera sport, Abacus vehicle hire and Flack Manor, but are looking for other corporate sponsors and individual donations.

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