GALLERY: Eight keen cyclists, spurred on by Lee’s battle, ride 250 miles in two gruelling days for Cancer Research

From left: Darren Barnett, Lee Barnett, Paul Drewery, Paul Corney, Matt Costall, Paul Blanchflower,

From left: Darren Barnett, Lee Barnett, Paul Drewery, Paul Corney, Matt Costall, Paul Blanchflower, Wayne Drewery, Pete Goodman, Martin Lambert. In front is Cancer Research fundraiser Laura Holland. Picture: Barry Giddings. - Credit: Archant

Eight friends pushed themselves to the limit during a gruelling two-day 250-mile charity bike race to raise £8,000 for Cancer Research UK.

Matt Costall, Darren Barnett, Paul Drewery, Paul Blanchflower, Paul Corney, Martin Lambert, Wayne Drewery and Pete Goodman set off from Doddington at 6am on Saturday.

The group, affectionately known as the middle aged men in lycra, cycled 123 miles to Great Yarmouth, where they stayed the night.

Then followed a 127-mile return stint on Sunday. The exhausted eight were met by cheering friends and family on their return.

It was a battle against the elements – the cyclists confronted torrential rain and 40mph winds. But, spurred on by the resilience of one of their own, they all completed the epic challenge. The inspiration behind the ride was Darren’s 22-year-old son and Doddington United player Lee Barnett, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last summer.

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The cancer spread to his lungs but, after undergoing chemotherapy, Lee was given the all clear. He returned to the first team, ahead of schedule, in February. Mr Costall said: “It was initially going to be Darren and I, but when we mentioned it to the others, they said they all wanted to take part.”

Lee joined his father and the rest of the cyclists for the last 10 miles of the cycle.

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Mr Costall said: “It gave us all a massive lift, we knew we were almost home.

“To see them both side by side less than a year after Lee’s diagnosis and despite what they had been through was amazing.”

Mr Costall says they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people they met during their bike ride, including the owner of the Furzedown Hotel, in Great Yarmouth, where the group stayed on Saturday.

He said: “He sent his girls around to collect from the evening function to support our fundraising and netted us a further £50.”

Mr Costall added: “On the way back, we stopped at a truck stop and a stranger gave us £30.”

The group were helped by kit sponsors Alan Bartlett and Sons and Vital Recruitment, Greenwheels Cycles of Peterborough, who provided spares for the ride, and Tero-Sports Ltd.

Sports therapist Tara Haines and colleague Wendy McReady gave the eight much-needed massages on Saturday night.

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