THEY are preparing for a Herculean bike ride that will take six weeks to finish – all in aid of charity.
The age-old fundraising 875-mile cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats may be the firm favourite among fundraisers in the UK.
But friends and neighbours George Mourne and Louis Butler, of Forest End in Waterlooville, hope to go one better by cycling nearly 1,500 miles around Greece this September.
And they hope to raise more than £2,000 for NSPCC in the process.
George, 18, who works for Matalan in Hambledon Road, said the duo wanted to take part in a fundraising challenge that would push them to the limit.
Setting off on September 7, they will cycle from the Greek capital Athens before navigating around the perimeter of the country.
They will sleep rough along the way, setting up hammocks and living out of their trusty rucksacks. But sleeping among nature is nothing new to the pair. George says they regularly go off for long bike rides – often lasting up to five days at a time.
He said: ‘We came up with the idea to go for a big bike ride for a good cause.
‘We thought about Greece and it just progressed from there.
‘We are pretty fit people – we’ve ridden to Newquay before and around France.
‘We have got a lot of experience on our bikes but this will be the biggest we’ve ever done.
‘We chose Greece because it’s in the EU, so it’s easy to get there and it’s one of the hardest places to ride around.
‘It has an average temperature of 38C with only 2mm of rainfall, and is mostly barren terrain.’
They have raised £500 through sponsorship so far and have been allowed to set up a fundraising stall in Gunwharf Quays to aid their efforts.
George added: ‘We’ve had support from Matalan, and my family and friends are all sponsoring us.
‘We’ve had to buy our own extra gear as we have done this ourselves. We went to NSPCC to see if we could use some of the funds to contribute towards it and they said yes.’
Andy Godliman, George’s manager at Matalan, said: ‘It’s an absolutely great idea to raise funds for the NSPCC.
‘Also, it’s a bit of an adventure for him but it is all for a good cause.
‘He’s a very responsible lad, very punctual and likeable.
‘He’s been with us for just over a year and settled in well as a member of the team.
‘We will be sponsoring them along the way and will be holding in-store sponsorship too, so we will be doing our bit.
‘We wish them all the best and hope he comes back in one piece.’