FOUR days of cycling purgatory lies ahead for Huddersfield’s Pedal for Pounds challengers.
The 300-strong group sets off this morning on a 240-mile Tour de Yorkshire in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Huddersfield Town’s Keep It Up campaign.
Today sees riders take on a 75-mile route from Huddersfield to Hull.
Tomorrow is Hull to Scarborough (65 miles), Friday is Scarborough to Harrogate (65 miles) and Saturday is a comparatively easy 35 miles from Harrogate to Huddersfield.
For some it will be their fourth year of pounding the nation’s roads on a bike in aid of charity.
But for one debutant the challenge will be doubly exciting as he will mark his 70th birthday on day two of the event.
Honley resident John Sheard only took up cycling last year and decided to join the gruelling challenge just four months ago.
He said he was confident of conquering Yorkshire’s hills and looking forward to the adoration of Huddersfield Town fans when the group arrived at the John Smiths Stadium ahead of the crunch relegation derby with Barnsley on Saturday.
John said: “I bought a bike last year and have been doing a bit of cycling, but then I saw the Pedal for Pounds challenge in the Examiner in December and I thought I’d have a go.
“I’m actually not the oldest doing it as there’s a 72-year-old in my group, but he’s been doing marathons all his life so he’s much fitter than me.
“I’m not going to be celebrating my birthday on the bike as we’ll be cycling from Hull to Scarborough but my son is coming up to meet me in the evening so I’m sure we’ll have a couple of drinks.”
John said he hadn’t cycled since he was a teenager but had held Mirfield’s Tour de France cyclist Brian Robinson in high esteem during his younger days.
He added: “I used to read about him in my cycling magazine when I was a kid – he’s a wonderful chap.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge with relish.
“I’ve been training as much as I can during this winter.
“I’m confident I’ll get round and I’m looking forward to the lap of honour in front of the Town fans.”
The popularity of Pedal For Pounds has helped the Keep It Up campaign close in on its £1m target.
It was launched in 2009 when Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle famously got on his bike and cycled to Southend with some of his friends and since then the event has mushroomed with everyone welcome to take part.
This year Town legend Mark Lillis will be just one of the Leeds Road set-up donning their lycra in the Tour of Yorkshire for the Keep It Up campaign.
A FATHER and son cycling duo are looking forward to tackling hundreds of miles of Yorkshire's roads – as long as the son can keep up!
Derek Highe, 55, from Mirfield, is taking on the 240-mile Pedal for Pounds challenge for the second time, while son James, 22, will be embarking on his first marathon cycle ride.
The pair are taking part in the cycling challenge which raises funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Huddersfield Town’s Academy.
Derek, speaking before he set off on day one’s 78-mile stage between Huddersfield and Hull, said he caught the buzz for the ride when he was at Brighton two seasons ago and the cyclists on Pedal for Pounds 2 arrived.
The D&M Interiors boss, who has had a knee replacement following years of local football, said: “Myself and my wife were staying the same hotel on the Friday that the riders were staying in. The atmosphere was amazing. I said to my wife I may do it next year just to show how strong my knee is.”
Mr Highe completed last year’s ride from Yeovil to Huddersfield and said he enjoyed almost every moment of it ... except the stage between Bristol and Birmingham when conditions turned nasty turning the day’s cycling into a wet slog.
Derek, who is in the advanced group of Team White, said despite the foul weather, there was a still a great cameraderie.
He added: “My son and I are in different groups. He’s in a beginners group, Team Rainbow. But at the end of the day as riders we’re all together and we look after each other – that was certainly the case with the riders last year.”
Despite having taken part in 2012’s event, Mr Highe confessed to being excited before the off, adding: “It’s a fantastic event and to be associated with what the club chairman Dean Hoyle is trying to do is just great.”
Derek will be sending a daily update from the road after he completes each day’s ride.
Go to www.examiner.co.uk to see the latest Pedal for Pounds news and pictures.