A Duns dad is about to bike from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, over the Pyrenees, to raise money for charity.
Raid Pyrenean riders start at Hendaye and bike nearly 450 miles (720km) close to the French-Spanish border, completing 11,000m of ascent, before arriving at Cerbere – all within 100 hours.
Ian Stark, a self-employed electronics engineer, said: “I have done some big cycles in the past, but not over so many days.
“I am raising money for the Perthes Association who provide support for children and families suffering from this disease – a degenerative hip condition which means children can be unable to walk for months or years. It is a small charity. This is also my holiday and all costs are met by myself. Everything I raise is going to the charity.
“Our eldest son has Perthes and was in a wheel chair for a while. The Perthes Association lent us a hand bike so we could get out and about.
“I would like to help provide hand bikes for other children who need them.”
Ian, 43, flies out to Tolouse on Sunday before starting the ride – which will see him climb most of the famous cols in the Pyrenees, including the Tourmalet and Aubisque – on Tuesday.
He told us: “The biggest challenge is self control, so that you are in a good state to do the next day, and the next day: I must be careful not to push too hard on any one day. Chaffing is a risk. Chaffing on day one will be a mess by day four.”
Originally from Selkirk, Ian’s love of cycling started early: “We didn’t have a car when I was younger and a bike was very much a means of getting around.”
Now, along with mountaineering and kayaking. it’s a hobby. He continued: “It’s really nice watching the landscape changing. Compared to walking, you get further – you can do 100 to 150 miles on your bike and see a lot of landscape changes. But you’re going slow enough that you still hear the birds and see things in the hedgerow.
“And when your bike is going well, it’s a really nice sound.
“It’s a good way to get around. You’re outside in the fresh air, you’re getting some exercise and it doesn’t use petrol.”
Married to Sarah, the couple have two sons and Ian is also a mountain rescue volunteer, a member of the Border Search and Rescue Unit.
He’s been training for the ride for six months and told us: “It will be nice to focus on the bike. I’ve not done much cycling in the Pyrenees, so I am looking forward to travelling through a new area.
“I like racing the bike and love chasing cars down mountain passes.”
Ian is undertaking the challenge with a specialist cycle touring company, which provides two support vehicles and follows the exact route of the original Raid Pyrenean established by the Cyclo Club Bearnais in 1950, with riders using the club’s carnet and receiving a medal and certificate when they complete.
To sponsor Ian visit his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/Ian-Stark1/