Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

'Boris bike' charity ride trio home

Robert Holden riding a Boris bike on the gruelling trip up Mont Ventoux.
Robert Holden riding a Boris bike on the gruelling trip up Mont Ventoux.

A team of fundraisers have said they have been overwhelmed with the public response to their challenge to take a "Boris bike" on a gruelling trip up a French mountain and returning it to London within the 24-hour rental time limit.

Matthew Winstone, Ian Laurie and Robert Holden paid the £2 daily hire charge for the bike, which they took from New Kent Road in Southwark, south London, at 3.58am on October 26.

They then took it by van through the Eurotunnel and drove to Mont Ventoux, a Tour de France landmark, where Mr Holden, from Teddington, south west London, pedalled the three-speed 50lb (23kg) bike to the top.

He completed the 14-mile (22km) climb to the summit at 6,273ft (1,912m) in two hours and 55 minutes,

Mont Ventoux became infamous when cyclist Tommy Simpson died of exhaustion just short of the summit in 1967.

Eddie Merckx needed oxygen after winning the climb in 1970 and this year, Britain's Chris Froome took a famous stage victory there on his way to winning the Tour de France.

The group managed to get the bike back to London by 3.57am the following day - just in time to avoid the £150 Transport for London fee for going over 24 hours.

Their efforts have so far raised more than £6,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support - more than three times their original target.

The charity was chosen because Mr Holden's father suffered from the disease.

Mr Winstone said: " To be honest, we are completely in shock as to how well this story has been taken up!

"It seems to have struck the right chord with everyone who has viewed it and some of the comments on the donation page are very, very heart warming."

A video of the challenge, recorded by Mr Winstone and Mr Laurie's production company Airspace Media, has now been viewed more than 26,000 times.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday praised the group, saying: "Huge congratulations to the trio who have conquered Mont Ventoux for charity and shown our Gallic cousins just how sturdy our city's hire bikes are.

"This was an astonishing feat of endurance made all the more remarkable by the breakneck speed at which they whizzed back in time to avoid getting a fine."

To donate to the challenge visit justgiving.com/rob-holden1.

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