Monday, 27 September 2021

Cyclists ride to Spain in aid of children’s hospital

ELEVEN men are to cycle from Benson to Santander to raise money for charity.

ELEVEN men are to cycle from Benson to Santander to raise money for charity.

Julian Vaccari, of Littleworth Road, Benson, has organised the 10-day challenge, which begins tomorrow (Saturday).

The group will set out from Sunnyside at 9am and plan to cycle 800 miles to the city in northern Spain.

Mr Vaccari, 42, planned the trip to say thank you to Oxford Children’s Hospital, where his youngest daughter, Rosa, now six, had open-heart surgery four years ago.

Mr Vaccari, a BBC journalist, said: “Basically, they fixed her heart and they did such a good job looking after her that she had a good experience of being in hospital.

“I wanted to do something that was a challenge and to see if we could go through three countries.

“I mentioned it to a friend one evening and asked whether he thought it would be possible to get to Spain on our bikes and he said ‘yes’. It has just grown from there.”

The group is also raising money for Cancer Research UK.

Mr Vaccari said: “We have all been touched by cancer in one way or another and quite a few of us have children who have been treated at Oxford Children’s Hospital.”

The cyclists have been training for almost a year, although Mr Vaccari was a novice when they began.

He said: “I would cycle to the shops but that was about it.

“I got a nice bike, put the Lycra on and started doing some serious training.

“We’ve been out on the freezing cold mornings in winter and done a couple of thousand miles this year just to get ourselves ready.”

Dietrich Benjes, from Goring, has persuaded his father, Bud, who lives in America, and a family friend, Sid Boyett, to follow the group in a safety car.

The other cyclists are Mark Powell, Damian Ward, Lee Brook and Dave Barnes, all from Benson, Joe Lovelock, from Wallingford, and his brother, Dominic, Steve Almond, from Lancashire, Clive Nixon, from Cumbria, and Mike Eberlin.

Mr Vaccari said: “I think quite a few of us are a bit daunted by the prospect of getting on the saddle every morning for 10 days in a row but it is going to be a beautiful ride so that should keep us going.”

The group have given themselves the nick name Red Dog Riders as Mr Powell produces Red Dog cider in the village.

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