Friends cycle pub to Paris route in loving memories

Steven Pye, Simon Hawkins, Jonathan Branson, Alex Burdfield at the finish in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Steven Pye, Simon Hawkins, Jonathan Branson, Alex Burdfield at the finish in front of the Eiffel Tower.

It’s not often a crazy conversation down the pub becomes a reality in the form of a 164 mile bike ride to Paris all in the name of charity.

But friends Steven Pye, Alex Burdfield, Simon Hawkins and Jonathan Branson did just that when they set off on a three-day cycle challenge on Friday, May 17, for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

“It started as a bit of a drunken conversation, especially because Alex who lives in a pub was probably not all that healthy, and we thought if we do it for charity it would give us a bit more motivation so we couldn’t back out,” revealed 30-year-old Steven from Horsham.

“But we all went out , bought bikes and in the first morning we did around eight miles and were completely shattered.”

Between them they managed to raise almost £1500, tripling their target, for their chosen charities in memory of Steven’s uncle, who died from Motor Neurone Disease, and for a close family friend of Alex who died from Cystic Fibrosis.

Steven’s proud father Graham, who was up at 4am on the day of the bike ride to see them off, said: “My brother Raymond was 12 years older than me and he died from Motor Neurone Disease three years ago on my 70th birthday.

“It’s personal and I think that’s what’s so important about this. I’m chuffed, Steven’s a good lad.”

The pals set off from the Queens Head pub in Barns Green, where the idea was born, to Newhaven. They then got the Ferry to Dieppe, on to a town called Forges-les-Eaux and through a popular cycle lane called Avenue Verte which saw them do around 70 miles on their first day. The next day they cycled another 70 miles and then a further 24 miles on day three to the Eiffel Tower before getting the last Eurostar back home on Sunday, May 19.

Steven added: “I was close to my uncle and I’m quite keen to do something similar again. When we’d got to the Eiffel Tower it really did feel like we’d achieved something . It was good fun, obviously physically demanding, but it was a good thing for four friends to do together.”

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