Bury St Edmunds: Friends gear up for mammoth cycle

TWO keen cyclists are taking on the challenge of a lifetime by pedalling 6,000 miles to Rwanda in a massive fundraising drive for sports equipment for youngsters there.

Friends Peter White and Peter Goodwin are hoping to raise thousands of pounds for the Sport for Rwanda appeal to leave a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games for young people in the country.

The West Suffolk Athletics Arena at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre has been chosen to host the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic teams as they prepare for the London Games.

Yesterday, the mammoth bike ride was announced at the leisure centre by the St Edmundsbury Olympic Steering Group. The group has set up the Go Rwanda project, which is to encourage people in the borough to support Rwanda as their second team during the Olympics and to leave a lasting legacy beyond 2012.

The cycle challenge, which is taking place in May 2012 from Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, is part of Go Rwanda’s Sport for Rwanda fundraising appeal.

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Mr White, 31, who is from Stanningfield Road, Great Whelnetham, and works for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “We are doing it because it’s a great reason to help with the Olympics and the legacy and to help a country that’s had some really tough times in my lifetime.”

The friends, who have cycled together for a number of years, will travel through 12 countries on their journey to Rwanda, and are hoping to travel back with the Rwandan team. They are aiming to cycle 100 miles a day and complete the challenge in 70 days.

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Mr White said he was not nervous. “I need to prepare really well for it to make it an achievable challenge,” he said. Ultraman athlete and Bury St Edmunds policeman Simon Bourne will be training and advising the pair.

Mr Goodwin, 28, who is from Queen Mary Avenue, Colchester, and runs art galleries, said he was “definitely” looking forward it. “Not just the challenge, but the countries we are going to go through, places I haven’t been to before,” he said.

The friends are looking for a third cyclist to join them in their challenge, and people should also be able to join in the first leg from Bury St Edmunds to Harwich.

The Sport for Rwanda appeal aims to raise �80,000 to provide sports equipment, a place to store it and educational materials in 140 schools. Sport is not taught in Rwandan schools.

Other fundraising activities are due to take place for the appeal. The equipment will be distributed by charity Rwanda Aid.

The borough has already started creating links with Rwanda and events are due to take place throughout the next year-and-a-half, including an exhibition at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds which celebrates Suffolk’s Olympic heritage.

Visit www.sportforrwanda.org.

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