Mansfield businessman’s 240-mile bike challenge

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A Mansfield businessman has set himself an Olympic-sized charity challenge - by cycling 240 miles in just 24 hours.

Paul Hopewell, a medical insurance broker, wants to raise cash for King’s Mill specialist baby care unit and will take part in a monstrous task of getting between Southampton and Sheffield in the space of a day.

But this won’t be just one lone cyclist battling against clock, the 45-year-old is putting together a crack team of 24 cyclists to help achieve his objective, and has even enlisted the help of former British Olympic cyclist, Bryan Steel.

The idea is for the cyclists to act as pacemakers, with four teams of six joining Paul during each of the four 60-mile stages.

Paul’s motivation to raise cash for the baby unit stems from his own experience, when his own son, Ryan, was born premature, weighed just 2lbs and spent three months in the unit.

That was 15 years ago, but Paul always promised to give something back to the unit.

Paul, a senior partner at The Health Insurance Group on Oakham Business Park, said: “At the end of last year I thought I needed a focus and a challenge, and I wanted it to be physical so I could keep in shape.

“A few years ago I did the coast-to-coast bike ride and it was fun. But if I was to divide this ride into three or four days, it’s not really a challenge, anybody could do that.

“I was put in touch with Bryan Steel, and unfortunately for me, he said it was possible in 24 hours!

“But he said to do this, it would need to be done like a pursuit race, to get into the slipstreams of other riders.

“This will help save 5-10 per cent of my energy and make a massive difference.”

Planned for 21st June, Bryan is busy planning the route, while Paul attempts to find the cyclists he needs, as well as fitting in an increasingly-busy training schedule.

He said: “The longest ride so far has been 35 miles, and I have realised what I’m now committed to! But I am going to do it, it’s the fear of failure.”

The significance of Paul riding 240 miles in 24 hours, is to highlight the ‘viability stage’ of birth - referring to the time required for the child to be in the womb to have a chance of survival.

His son Ryan was born at 24 weeks.

However, it also happens to be 240 miles between The Healthcare Insurance Group offices in Southampton and Sheffield, which Paul freely admits: “I thought I’d get the business involved to hopefully get more sponsorship!”

He has set a target of £2,400, although he admits he is hoping for more.

From the 24 cyclists he is calling for four ‘ambassadors’ or team leaders who will each help put together their team of six.

He is also calling on 24 businesses to get involved by sponsoring him £240 and people to donate anything from £2.40 upwards.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Paul is being asked to call him on 07747 067874.