London to Biarritz charity ride seeks cyclists

Two places available on the Duchenne DashMAX – an epic nine-day event

London to Biarritz charity ride seeks cyclists

Fancy riding from London to Paris in 24 hours? How about getting up the next day and cycling on through France to Biarritz (including several iconic Pyrenean climbs)? Two places for this extraordinary nine-day, 1,500km ride in June are available in aid of charity Duchenne UK.

The Duchenne Dash on 7 June is a 24-hour ride to Paris via Newhaven and Dieppe (and including a four-hour break on the ferry). The annual event was started six years ago when Duchenne UK patron and TV newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy took on the challenge with a small group of friends. This year up to 200 people will take part. It ends, Tour de France fashion, on the Champs-Élysées, followed by a gala dinner.

The next day a group of about 20 on The Duchenne DashMAX will kick on, pedalling another 200km a day to arrive in Biarritz on 15 June. The epic ride is fully supported with mechanic, medic and physio, motorcycle outriders and rolling roadblocks, accommodation, food and stage-to-stage kit transport. Two places, one sponsored and one requiring fundraising, are available: contact Alasdair Robertson if you'd like to ride - in any case, please donate.

The DashMAX’s creator, Robertson is founding director of TownCentreParking and father of Felix, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). It’s the most common fatal genetic disease diagnosed in childhood, almost always affecting boys. Two families a week are told their sons have the disease. By 12 many are confined to wheelchairs and it’s unusual for any to survive into their 30s.

Duchenne UK funds research, trials, drug development and community work, aiming to cure DMD within a decade. Felix is only six but is already clearly affected by the disease. Real progress is being made in the development of treatments that will slow or halt the disease, but there’s still an awful lot to be done. The DashMAX is literally a race against time.

Velocity is lucky enough to be taking part in the DashMAX this year, publisher Toby Fox riding with transport planning consultancy Vectos. “I met Alasdair on a ride organised by Winckworth Sherwood and Swanvale Developments,” Vectos director Mike Axon told Velocity. “I was so moved by his story, by the idea of raising a child until they are old enough to die, that I just wanted to do something to help.

“We raised £30,000 for Duchenne UK last year and over £20,000 so far this year, with the DashMAX and organising quizzes in London and Cardiff. This isn’t one of those charities where the money raised might help in five years or ten years; the work they are doing makes a difference immediately. They are helping children live longer right now.”

There is an element of networking that makes the ride attractive for businesses, Axon accepted. “But not to the same level as a ride like Cycle to MIPIM, where networking is a major part of why people do it. It’s more about meeting interesting people – media and sports celebrities and others who are motivated to do something extraordinary to try to help the charity. You meet really interesting people on this ride.”

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