Lewes man Dave Shephard is taking part in the toughest endurance cycling race in the world.
He is competing in The Race Across America (RAAM) in support of Asthma UK – at 3,000 miles it’s one third further than the Tour de France and with no stops.
Dave, 49, of Castle Precincts, is part of a four-man UK team put together by his great friend, Bath and England rugby legend John Hall.
The London Pride Spinhalers will also include Martyn Grant and Sir James Fuller and they are raising money in memory of schoolgirl Antonia Thomas.
The team set off tomorrow (Saturday) from Oceanside, California, and expect to arrive on the East Coast of the USA seven days later.
They will be supported along the way by a 13-strong volunteer crew.
They have been training for a year and hope to maintain about 18mph day and night along the route, which includes more than 170,000 feet of vertical climbing.
The London Pride Spinhalers are all members of the ARC (Antonia’s Riders Corsham) Cycling Club, set up in memory of Antonia, from Corsham, Wiltshire, who tragically lost her life when she suffered a sudden asthma attack in 2009, aged just 10.
Antonia’s father, Jeff Thomas, will drive one of the support vehicles. He said: “It’s hard enough just driving across America – what these guys are doing is inspiring and will help asthma sufferers nationwide.”
John Hall commented: “This is one of the ultimate challenges in world cycling and we are proud to be the only UK four-man team taking it on, and for a cause that has touched us all deeply.”
Dave, a children’s illustrator who occasionally rides with Lewes Wanderers, said: “We will have to endure temperatures in excess of 100 degrees and try to evade the wheels of 18-wheel trucks. All with practically no sleep.
“For me it’s involved pounding the lanes of Sussex for the last eight months, for an average of 15 hours a week and covering up to 300 miles a week.
“I’m glad the race is coming up fast as I’m knackered!”
The team has already secured sponsorship from Fuller’s – the brewers of London Pride – Skyscape Cloud Services, Ark Data Centres, Widcombe House Investments and Vectura Group plc.
The costs for the race are now covered, so all proceeds from fundraising and donations goes directly to Asthma UK.
Support the charity and the London Pride Spinhalers and follow their progress on www.spinhalers.co.uk