A Barnoldswick man is gearing up for an epic grand tour cycle ride raising money for a cancer charity.
Mark Sandamas (49) is part of a team of eight riders taking part in the relay section of the non-stop 2,150km Race Around Ireland which begins on Sunday.
The race is part of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association World Cup series and it is widely recognised as Europe’s most challenging endurance event.
Mark, who is a director of Pennine Events, will be a guest rider on the DHL team, which is also sponsoring the event, and the team is hoping to finish well within the 96 hour time limit. Riders complete rolling 20km sections with teammates ready to relay past them when their stint is finished.
The eight strong team is riding for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, a charity raising money for families who suffer with cancer. Last year the DHL team’s efforts delivered over €13,000 for the charity and this year the group is aiming to double that figure.
Mark said: “I think it will be mentally tough as much as physically. I really want to challenge myself but it’s not very often you get the opportunity to relay as part of a team so there is the teamwork element too.
“I think we will complement each other as riders. Some will be better on the climbing sections, some better on the flat.
“From the moment we set off from the start line at Trim Castle we will be pedalling continually until we cross the finish line at the same place hopefully around 80 hours later if all goes to plan.
“We’ll pass stunning paces like the Giant’s Causeway, the Ring of Kerry, Connemara and over the Wicklow Mountains, though at 3am with rain coming horizontal off the Atlantic it may not seem so attractive!”
A keen cyclist and runner, Mark is a member of Pendle Forest and Barnoldswick Clarion cycling clubs and Barlick Fell Runners.
He is no stranger to endurance events, completing the London marathon this year in a personal best time of 2hrs 46mins, a top 20 position for his age category, and he has previously rode the 280km Liege-Bastogne-Liege cycling sportive.
Mark has mixed high intensity short rides with 100 mile spins to prepare for it. He added: “We are taking it very seriously and are committed to winning our category so we have been training pretty hard for it. DHL took part last year so we able to benefit from the experience of that.
“Thanks also to Hope Technology who are helping out by providing all our lights which are an essential item for this event.”
Mark may even feature in a documentary after the race as the DHL team’s challenge has caught the attention of the company’s global chief executive who has commissioned a TV crew to follow the race.
The event is also well supported by the public and Mark expects people to be out cheering at all hours of the day, something which he says the team will greatly appreciate.
Go to http://racearoundireland.com/ to find out more about the race and to follow its progress.