A GROUP of 18 cyclist friends departed on Wednesday on a London to Paris bike ride in aid of St Luke's Hospice.
The Desi Riders, who are aged between 24 and 65 and whose name means 'countrymen' in Hindi, hope to raise £10,000 in support of the Kenton hospice which is itself aiming to bring in an extra £250,000 to expand its services in its 25th anniversary year.
Group member Ash Vekaria, 43, of Lion Meade, Stanmore, said: “We chose to support St Luke's because it is a local charity. It has touched quite a few or our lives and helped a lot of our family members.”
The bike ride started yesterday at Wembley Stadium with the group crossing the English Channel on a ferry from New Haven in the hope of covering between 60 and 80 miles a day. Their journey will end around 200 miles later at the Eiffel Tower in the French capital today (Friday).
Mr Vekaria said: “We chose this because it is long enough to be a challenge for first time riders. But it is also manageable for all levels of fitness, we have some very fit riders, and some not so fit, so everyone can complete the challenge with this route.
“We have been training since February by riding regularly as a group. We were riding 60 miles every Saturday and Sunday and trying to do 20miles a couple of nights during the week.”
The Desi Riders held a fundraising evening at the end of June to raise awareness about their bike ride and more than 300 people attended their dinner and dance event on June 24 at the RNB Banqueting Suites in Stag Lane, Kingsbury.
They have raised over £7,000 for four charities, but they are still looking for sponsors amongst friends, family and local businesses.
“The response to our bike ride has been very positive. A lot of people were surprised and impressed, they haven't heard of local people doing something like that for charity,” said Mr Vekaria.
St Luke Hospice's director of fundraising Pam Russell said: “We are very grateful for their support. We wish the Desi Riders the best of luck. It is only through the support of people like them that we can continue to do our work at the hospice.”