Pedal power: Cyclists leave the flatlands of Fenland to take on the French Alps for charity

KEEN cyclist John Hartley is leaving the flat roads of the Fens to take on the mountains of the French Alps this summer, tackling the famous 108-mile Marmotte route.

John, who lives in Ely, is joining six friends to pedal their way along the Alps course in just one day, raising money for three cancer charities, Beating Bowel Cancer, Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research, and Macmillan Cancer Care. They hope to raise around �10,000 through sponsorship

The Marmotte includes more than 5180 metres of climbing, and taking in four of the most famous Tour de France mountains.

The group have called themselves Grimpeurs - which is the French word for climbers on a bicycle. John explains: “grimpeur is a word that conveys immediately the sense of plastering yourself to the side of a mountain, hauling yourself up hand-over-hand, slowly chipping away at it with each turn of the pedals.”

John added: “I bought my road bike specifically or the training and events from the City Cycle Centre. Paul and Graham from the shop have given me great advice, and have donated energy bars and drinks to help us along the way.”

The decision to raise funds for cancer charities was the result of John’s father Robert suffering from bowel and liver cancer, he is currently undergoing treatment; and another friend died in 2010 from lymphoma at the age of 29.

John said: “Training had been hard for all of us, not least because there are not many places that can replicate the French Alps. However, we have all been very dedicated and put as much time and effort into training as we can. “We have entered many cycling events around the country together, to train physically but also to get used to cycling as a group.”

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The seven riders plan to complete the course next month. The riders have their own website - - which includes lots of information and a link to the donation website.