16 June 2018
Dozens of charity bike riders are halfway through a Croatian cycle challenge that will raise tens of thousands of pounds for Foundation of Light.
The riders, including Sunderland AFC legend Julio Arca, set off from Dubrovnik at about 9am on Thursday after flying in the night before.
They arrived at their first overnight stop at the Croatian coastal town of Gradac just past 7.15pm. The 83-mile, 7,000ft ride wasn’t without incident.
Although the ride started in bright sunshine, the weather deteriorated and the 32 riders had to contend with thunder, lightning and rain showers before emerging once again into sunshine toward the end of the long ride.
There was also a problem at a Bosnia border crossing which added a detour on to the mileage.
Yesterday, they rode for a further 60 miles, climbing another 7,000ft. They arrived into the town of Makarska at teatime.
Tomorrow, Saturday, the riders cross via ferry to the picturesque island of Brac, where they will ride for 58 miles, climbing 5,200ft.
They finish the four-day ride on Sunday evening when they arrive into Split.
Previous rides – including Brussels to Paris, Poland to Prague and the French Atlantic Coast to the French Mediterranean coast – have each raised in the region of £70,000.
It’s been a tough, but enjoyable day – the company has been great too and everyone has been very supportive.
Sean Thompson, MD at Ashford Orthodontics, who has completed several of the rides on a tandemn with his wife Allison, added: “The weather had a bit of everything and there were one or two steep climbs that tested us all, but we knew it was going to be tough – and it was.”
Each cyclist is asked to raise £1,650 towards the cost of the ride, with all proceeds going toward the Foundation.
The ride is being supported by international building materials distributor Grafton Group plc, whose managing director Gavin Slark was born and brought up in Sunderland and logistics specialists OSE European.
The Foundation of Light was established in 2001 and uses the power of football to involve, educate and inspire people of all ages and from all backgrounds to realise their potential.