32-year-old will be taking part in the Inca Challenge, a testing
1,000 kilometre mountain bike race through the Andes mountain range,
in September 2005, to raise money for charity.
three-week event has been set up by the Cirencester-based Venture
Challenge group, which is also behind the internationally-renowned
Polar Challenge race to the North Pole.
of four will start out at the summit of a 6,000 metre volcano -
Cerro Uturunco - in the Bolivian Andes, towing up to 25kg of equipment
in suspension trailers.
race will cross the Altipano semi-desert and the world's largest
dried salt lake, Salar de Uyuni, before crossing into Chile for
a final downhill dash across the Atacama Desert to the Pacific coast.
who's a reporter for the Wiltshire & Gloucestershire Standard
newspaper, aims to raise money for the Cirencester Hospital Scanner
Appeal and Cancer Research.
caught up with Paul in January 2005 for a quick chat about his impending
long has it been since you last rode a bike?
haven't actually been on a bike properly since my teens. I used
to be a very keen biker back in my teens but it's mainly been football
and quite a lot of time in the pub since then, I've got to be honest."
did you come across this challenge in the first place?
was quite heavily involved with Polar Team which is made up of Tony
Martin - a gentleman from Cirencester [who's] a former army commando
- and Richard Dunwoody, the champion jockey. I handled the PR for
them when they took part in a race to the North Pole. When Tony
got back he formed up a partnership with the winning team. They
formed Polar Challenge, which is a race to the North Pole, and from
there they formed a number of different challenges and Inca Challenge
is one of those."
you actually look at it when you first saw it and say 'that's for
suppose you get to a stage in your life where you go to work, go
and have a pint in the pub, probably play a bit of football - I
actually felt I wanted to do something with my life that could make
a difference. I had a chat with Tony and asked him how feasible
it would be for your average Joe Bloggs in the street like me to
do something [like this]. He recommended the Inca Challenge and
I've been really focused on it since."
going to be doing a gruelling 1,000km mountain bike race. For somebody
who hasn't been on their bike since their teens that's quite a challenge.
is a challenge but it's certainly one that I'm relishing. The point
about Inca Challenge is, yes it's a tough event but as long as you
are a proficient cyclist and you've got a generally decent level
of fitness then you can do it."
you know who the rest of your four man team will be yet?
been back to my hometown to recruit a childhood friend of mine -
Gareth Richards. Gaz is going to be doing it with us. I've had a
good bit of news the other week with Mack McKinnon, a personal trainer
from Cirencester, agreeing to do this. Mack is a pretty tough character,
he'll give us a kick if we need it!
also looking for a fourth member. We did have somebody lined up
but they can't make it due to other commitments. We have had some
expressions of interest but it would be nice to get a female member
[for the team]."
raising money for charity with this challenge. Are you allowed to
pick the charity that the money goes to?
that's the whole point of it really. My team-mates have said that
they want to do it for charity as well. Whether they'll share the
same charity as me I don't know. I'm personally doing it, on a local
angle, for the Cirencester Hospital Scanner Appeal and nationally
for Cancer Research."
how about the training then?
made the decision to do this event a week before my 32nd birthday
in November . I've been training now for seven weeks. I started
on my birthday, I thought I'd make that a point. I've got to say
a big thank you to my local gym, who've really put me through my
paces over the past weeks."
long do you think it will take you to get fit for the challenge?
the work has already started and I certainly feel a lot better for
it. I've definitely seen a difference already but things really
hot up from the end of January."
it just gym training or are you out on the bike too?
been gym training so far although I was out cross-country training
on Christmas Day morning and I did the same on New Year's morning
as well so no rest there! At the moment it's mainly gym work, trying
to get the fitness levels up, lose a bit of weight and tone up a
bit. The bike stuff starts at the end of January."
what about the sort of terrain you'll be crossing? What do you expect
to face there?
the main obstacle will be the altitude. We start off at about 6,000
metres above sea level at the top of a semi-active volcano. The
whole of the first six hundred kilometres of the race is above 4,000
metres so that's enough to contend with. We'll also be towing behind
us, individually, 25kg packs with all our supplies in them as well.
It's going to be pretty gruelling but there's lots of other aspects
to the race too - we'll be crossing over the Altiplano semi-desert.
We'll also be taking in the Salar de Uyuni which is the largest
dried salt lake. Then it's all downhill from there, across the Atacama
desert in Chile and make for the Pacific Coast where we're going
to have a great big party on the beach which I'm really looking
forward to. The scenery should be spectacular."
about the accommodation?
the middle of the Andes? [laughs] There's no five star hotels so
it will be pretty much under the stars. Obviously we'll have the
camping equipment and everything to go along but again I'm looking
forward to it.
the weather? Have you got any idea what you'll face out there in
it's the Andes again isn't it! The guys who are organising it -
Tony and the team - will obviously be able to give us a good understanding
of what's happening there. I suppose with it being the Andes it's
going to be quite unpredictable. My understanding is that there
are going to be different aspects of it with it being mountainous,
there are going to be bits where it's quite cold but you'll also
have other parts where it'll be scorching hot."
Inca Challenge is in aid of charity and if you want more information,
contact Paul at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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