Alex Hawkes, Course Manager at South Winchester Golf Club, is to ride the gruelling Etape Du Tour stage of the Tour De France, in support of Parkinson's UK and The Alzheimer's Society. Alex takes up the story:
"My reasons for choosing the two charities is that Parkinson's Disease runs in my paternal family, claiming my dad's brother, and because my father-in-law has recently been diagnosed with two forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's.
The ride that I am doing is called the Etape Du Tour. The idea is that amateurs (10,000 of them) can ride a stage of the Tour De France under tour conditions - closed roads, banners, feed stations, large crowds etc. This year, for the first time, the organisers are running two different stages - a week apart - but it would prove too expensive to do both, and I would not like to be away from South Winchester for that long during the summer months.
I have, therefore, chosen to do the mountain stage, which takes place on Monday 11th July and will be riden by the pros as the final and most prestigious mountain stage (known as the Queen of Stages), stage 19, a week or so later.
Although not that long by tour standards - at 109km - it does take in three of the most famous alpine climbs of the Tour De France - Le Col du Galibier, Le Col du Telegraphe and, possibly the most famous of them all, the Alpe D'Huez.
The stage begins in the town of Modane, near the Italian border, and finishes on top of the Alpe D'Huez.
The main issues will be the heat of France in July, the cold when descending at high speed from high mountains, the lack of oxygen at such altitude and the length of the climbs - the Galibier is over 18km of uphill road on its own.
The main point that I have tried to make to people is that I am funding the whole cost of this trip myself (or at least my wife is for my 40th) so, all the money that I raise will go to the charites, rather than funding the trip itself.
The reason that I make this point is that, while listening to a radio station recently, a number of people spoke of their annoyance of people "doing their trip of a lifetime and getting other people to fund it via sponsorship". I am anxious to stress that I will not be doing this.
At the advice of my mum, I am writing a blog about the whole experience, including all the training etc. that I undertake along the way. You can have a look by going to http://etape-journey-2011.blogspot.com/
Any support you can give will be really appreciated."
The link to Alex's fundraising page is http://www.justgiving.com/Alex-Hawkes-Alzheimers and http://www.justgiving.com/Alex-Hawkes-Parkinsons-UK