WHN’s Graham Ireland is in peak condition ahead of a gruelling ‘Cycle the Alps’ challenge that will raise £6,000 for two local charities.
Sixty-year-old Graham will cycle a 600-mile route through the French Alps, climbing 56,600 ft – equivalent to Mount Everest on top of K2 – over six days.
Graham, who heads up the conveyancing team at WHN Solicitors, is taking part in the challenge to help provide a cycle hub at Blackburn Youth Zone, which will encourage and inspire future generations to get on their bikes and explore.
He is also raising funds for Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s 20th anniversary appeal, aiming to ensure the foundation remains at the forefront of fighting cancer locally by funding the acquisition of a DaVinci Xi Robotic Surgical System.
The six-day challenge from September 2-8 involves climbing through five alpine cols to Grenoble and on to the formidable Alpe d’Huez. Next, the 30 intrepid cyclists face a further seven cols before reaching the ‘Giant of Provence’, Mont Ventoux. They will complete the challenge with some stunning cycling along the spectacular Gorges Du Nesque route.
Graham is taking part in the challenge despite having had cancer and dealing with other health problems, including a heart defect diagnosis and a number of accidents on his bike, one of which prevented him from cycling for three months.
Graham commented: “It has taken a mammoth effort for me to be up for this but I have never been more determined. Also, I turned 60 in May, so I’m really wanting to challenge myself.”
He has also been interviewed by two programme makers from Channel 4 who are going along with the group to make a documentary that will be shown on TV later this year.
Graham continued: “I have been trying to get as many miles under my belt as I can over the last 18 months. This has included cycling from my home in Wilpshire to work in Blackburn almost every day, even through the winter months and rain. Even though the distance to and from work is only short, I take a longer detour going home.
“Any time I can cycle, I do cycle. Taking into account longer weekend rides, I have been covering between 100 and 200 miles a week, which is more than I do in my car. The distances of the weekend rides have increased over that time. Coming up soon, I have a 50 mile ride and an 80 mile ride in the space of a couple of days.”
The challenge involves cycling from one alpine hotel to another, with a day to complete each section of the ride and a support vehicle accompanying the cyclists in case of emergency.
Graham added: “I am greatly indebted to my colleagues at WHN Solicitors. The firm kindly paid the significant entry fee to be accepted for the challenge and people have also had to put up with seeing me in Lycra over the last 18 months.”
To donate, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GrahamIreland1