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Newbury cyclists take on 500km challenge to raise funds for Eight Bells for Mental Health



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Four Newbury men are setting off this lunchtime (Friday) to cycle the equivalent of Newbury to the Netherlands in aid of a mental health charity, writes Libby Jonas.

The friends will attempt to ride 500km – or 300 miles – in 24 hours in aid of Eight Bells for Mental Health.

Newbury Town Council leader Martin Colston, Rog Davis, Sean Bird and Bart Kuijten – who all met through Team Kennet Triathlon club and have raced together for many years – came up with idea of this new challenge after taking part in the Dragon Devil ride in the Brecon Beacons last year.

Martin Colston, Rog Davis, Sean Bird and Bart Kuijten are all attempting to cycle 500km in 24 hours in aid of Eight Bells for Mental Health
Martin Colston, Rog Davis, Sean Bird and Bart Kuijten are all attempting to cycle 500km in 24 hours in aid of Eight Bells for Mental Health

That saw them complete 300km in 15 hours, leading the group to wonder if they could push themselves even further.

For the next 24 hours they will cycle a 100km loop, starting and finishing in Newbury and taking in Lambourn, Ashbury, Wantage, Upton, Streatley, Pangbourne, Woolhampton and Thatcham.

Each loop will see 870m of climbing and after each circuit they will have a short pit stop to eat, refill their energy drinks and food to eat on the next loop, have a quick stretch and then head out again.

The men said: "Over the last six months we've all been training hard.

"We will get more fatigued, more tired and more uncomfortable with each successive lap and the temptation to call it quits at the end of laps three and four will be hard to resist. And lap three and half of lap four will be in the dark.

"The mental challenge of this feat makes our chosen charity – Eight Bells for Mental Health – really appropriate."

Mr Davis and Mr Colston spent four days cycling in the French Alps recently, covering over 400km and climbing a total of over 9,000m.

Mr Kuijten and Mr Bird have been running to help their training and in June they each completed the South Downs Way 100 mile race.

Mr Colston said he knew from personal experience how important effective treatment and support is, making the charity a cause close to his heart.

If you would like to sponsor the friends you can follow this link to the Mayors' Benevolent Fund, where your donation will be matched via The Good Exchange – https://www.givey.com/500kmin24hours

The group will be waved off this afternoon by the mayor of Newbury, Gary Norman, from the Friends Meeting House, where Eight Bells meets every Friday.



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