A CYCLING-MAD grandfather is set to contest the Tour de Force next month – despite turning 68 just days before the gruelling 3,500km race gets underway in Liege.
Brian East, of Kevan Drive, Send, is one of just 25 riders set to take on the challenge which follows the exact route of the famous Tour de France, once described by Lance Armstrong as the toughest race on earth.
Brian, who leads three spinning classes a week at the Nuffield Health and Fitness Centre in West Byfleet, will race in aid of the William Wates Memorial Trust, which aims to keep disadvantaged youngsters away from crime.
He has already raised more than £1,600.
Brian will cover his own expenses, leaving the wear and tear of 20 days non-stop cycling as the only real concern for the fitness fanatic.
He said: “It was an opportunity to help disadvantaged people but also a challenge that appealed.
“I’m a little apprehensive because you do pick up strains in training but I can cycle 100 miles without a problem.
“I’ve got no problem with the uphill climbs. To put it all together for 20 or so days is going to be difficult – that’s the killer. It’s all a bit unknown at the moment.
“You’ve got to have a tough mental attitude. The body is the first thing to give up and you need that mental strength to get you through.”
About 100 riders will complete various legs of the route but only Brian and 24 others will take on the loop of France in its entirety.
Brian had to provide a doctor’s note to ensure he was able to travel a distance equal to that from London to Cairo.
He said: “My family think I’m crazy. My biggest concern is to arrive at the start in good shape.
“I’m being treated for a couple of injuries but I’m out on the bike for about eight hours at a time to prepare myself because staying in the saddle for massive periods is what it is all about.”
Brian’s journey starts in Belgium on Sunday and ends in Paris on July 15. You can sponsor him by visiting www.bmycharity.com/brianeast