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Friends Tom Major from Dartford and Darren Baker set for 1,000-mile Monte Carlo bike challenge

We all think we would do anything for our best friends, but few would relish the thought of a 1,000-mile bike challenge.

But that is exactly what Tom Major, of Baker Crescent, Dartford, is doing.

This summer he will join school chum Darren Baker on the epic challenge, in memory of Darren’s mum, Karen, who died from pancreatic cancer aged just 54.

Tom Major (L) and Darren Baker (R), with Rebecca Keen, Operations Manager at BHS
Tom Major (L) and Darren Baker (R), with Rebecca Keen, Operations Manager at BHS

The pair, both 27, are preparing to cycle from London to Monte Carlo over 10 days from July 19, and will scale the mighty Alps in the process.

They want to raise £5,000 to be split between Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice, where Karen was cared for.

Tom, who works as a surveyor, only got back on a bike in January for the first time since his teens.

He said: “We have both taken time off work to do the ride, so it has to be completed in 10 days no matter what.

“We went travelling together when we were both aged 19, so we are quite used to each other’s company.

“We’re both pretty active and we’re always up for an adventure, though we’ve never done anything quite like this before.

“We aim to finish outside the famous Monte Carlo casino.

Karen Baker
Karen Baker

“Neither of us have been to Monaco before, so it will be a real treat for us after such a long ride.”

Darren, a plumber from Welling, said: “Mum would have burst out laughing if she could have seen us pedaling away.

“She would have told us outright that we were crazy but I know she would have got right behind us and been very proud.”

Karen was a fitness enthusiast herself, and Darren said that made her death in May 2013 even more heartbreaking.

He added: “With pancreatic cancer there are no obvious symptoms so a person can seem outwardly perfectly healthy.

“Mum always kept herself so fit and to look at her no one would have known she was so ill.

“It was not until she started to get prolonged back ache that the cancer was diagnosed.”

Karen worked for 17 years at BHS in Bexleyheath, which has donated £750 towards the cause.

To sponsor Tom and Darren, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ridelondon2montecarlo

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