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Mr. Ed Bear en route to Hendaye

Mr. Ed Bear en route to Hendaye

Tomorrow morning sees a team of seven friends from iCycle start their assault on the Raid Pyreneen. An assault that will be completed in less than 100 hours (if all goes to plan), having comprised 720km and 14,600m of climbing.

It’s a challenge that was instituted by the Cyclo-club Bearnaise and is a popular challenge for insane cyclists…

This madness is what my training this year has all been aimed at. The Etape last month was a dress-rehearsal.

Tomorrow’s blog post will, no doubt, have more information about the day’s cycling – but today I wanted to use the opportunity to bang a drum.  That drum is one which has already made a difference to the world and presents an opportunity to make an even more profound one.

For only the second time in history – mankind has the ability to eliminate a deadly virus from the world. We did it with smallpox – which has been eradicated in the wild since the last case in 1977. We are very close to eradicating Polio.

Young people today are largely unaware of the hundreds of thousands of deaths from Poliomyelitis still within living memory – and the millions that have survived, often with significant disabilities. This is due to a project started by Rotary International in 1979 and adopted by Unesco and the World Health Organisaton, which has saved millions of lives in the last 25 years.

Today Polio is endemic in only three countries (Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan), but as we’ve seen with the potential spread of Ebola recently, the ability for the Polio virus to escape these countries and wreak havoc across the world means that, as the world shrinks, it is even more important that we wipe it from the Earth.

The Gates Foundation offered to match Rotary International’s fund-raising efforts, and continues to do so – tripling every pound raised – and other charities and governments around the world are also funding the final push.

YOU CAN HELP TOO. I have created a VirginMoneyGiving page where you can show your support for the project.

What has this got to do with the Raid Pyreneen? Nothing I guess. But I know there are a large number of friends and relatives of all seven of the Raid Randonneurs who will be watching for news, and any opportunity to raise awareness of the awesome achievement of Rotary & the WHO is worth it.

Edward Bear, our local End Polio Now Ambassador, is lending his support as part of our Raid Crew – and will be posting updates from the field.  If you feel that you’re able to support this historical, society-changing, live-saving project – hop over to VirginMoneyGiving too. Mr Bear will be forever greatful!

Thank you for listing to the drum beat… now on with the cycling!