A son is taking on a 1,200-mile bike ride from London to Rome in memory of his mum, who died after a battle with bowel cancer five years ago.
It will be the second big ride Leigh Thistlethwaite, 31, from Fountains Way, Oswaldtwistle has done to raise money for the East Lancashire Hospice where mum, Denise Taylor, spent her final days.
His previous epic ride covered 1,000 miles in 12 days from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 2010.
This time he is hoping, along with five friends, to achieve the 1,200 miles in just seven days - something he believes has never been done before - to raise £5,000 for both the hospice and the North West Air Ambulance Charity.
Leigh said: “Mum would have been 50 this year.
“I think she would be shocked if she knew what I was doing because I was never into cycling but she’d be really pleased.
“She kept her cancer a secret from us until my wife Sarah and I got married and then two months later she passed away.”
The dad-of-three and his friends - tree surgeon Dan Day, 33, plumber Iain Fay, 30, builder Sol Whittaker, 32, plasterer Stuart Scott, 32 and marine Matt Mason, 25, will leave from the Royal Marines Reserve base in London next month.
They will head to Folkestone where they will attach their bikes to a minibus and board the train to Calais.
From Calais they will head across France towards the Swiss Alps negotiating ‘undulating terrain and sleep deprivation’.
They will then face more than 10,000ft of climbing as they cross the Alps before dropping into northern Italy and following the coast down to Rome, all the while sleeping outside with minimal kit and washing in rivers.
Leigh, who is an electrician, said: “The whole thing was Matt’s idea - he is really fit and has rowed the Atlantic before but I think it will be harder for me. I’m really excited - I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
He added that they are training hard with rides of up to 50 miles a time.
He said: “It will be fantastic if we can raise all the money to help two such great charities.”
The friends will also do two static rides at the town’s Tesco Extra on April 11 and Asda on April 18.
The challenge has raised £490 so far.
To make a donation search for Leigh Thistlethwaite at uk.virginmoneygiving.com.