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Peru cycling pals survive epic ride
The start of an adventure: left to right, Mark, Kris, Chris and Phil at Machu Picchu, Peru’s Inca wonder
CYCLING up and down muddy trails high in the Andes, the four Swindon pals were not quite sure what would explode first – their lungs or their legs.
Sometimes the rain was so fierce they could barely see in front of them, which was just as well as the drops just a few feet away were frighteningly sheer.
But after nearly 200 miles in five days Chris Kyle, Kris Maskalaniec, Phil Niewiadomski, and Mark Wright triumphantly reached the town of Atalaya.
They had cycled from the vertiginous tracks of the world’s second highest mountain range, starting at the legendary Inca site of Machu Picchu, before riding down into the muggy climes of the Amazon rainforest.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Kris, 34, a mechanical estimater of Old Walcot. “We were cycling along mountain paths next to drops of 100 metres.”
One day saw them pedal 20 miles uphill for eight agonising hours. “Physically, it was really demanding,” said Kris. “It is difficult breathing anyway at that sort of altitude, let alone cycling.”
Between them they hope to raise more than £15,000 for cancer charities in memory of friends and loved ones who either died from the disease, or whose lives were blighted by it.
All in their early-to-mid 30s, they have been mates ever since their days at St Joseph’s School, Swindon.
Earlier this year Kris was approached by Chris Kyle who wanted to raise £5,000 for the “great people at Breast Cancer Care.”
Chris, of Old Town, was keen to aid the charity that had helped his mother Maria Walsh battle the disease.
Having overcome breast cancer, Mrs Walsh is now fighting leukaemia.
Chris had heard about a 315 km (196 miles) cycle ride from Machu Picchu to the Amazon jungle and asked his friends if they wanted to do it with him.
Kris’s uncle Karol Piethota, of Old Walcot, died early this year from the disease. Kris took up the challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Mark, of Liden, decided to ride in memory of his late parents Graham and Nora Wright. He too set out to raise cash for Macmillan “because of the fantastic work they did for my father.”
Phil, of Rodbourne, joined his mates to raise funds for Swindon’s Prospect Hospice in memory of his friend John Pungitor, an active member of Swindon’s Italian community who died in 2008 after a “valiant battle against cancer.”
Now back in Swindon, Kris is holding a charity golf day at the Broome Manor course on Saturday to help take his amount raised over the £4,000 mark.
Reflecting on the Peruvian escapade, Kris said: “After we cycled to the Amazon we travelled back in a minibus and, to be honest, I couldn’t believe that we had actually cycled the route.
“There had been three landslides, which we had just missed and the drops were just unbelievable.
“Overall, it was six plane trips, 315km cycled, 2.5km (1.6 miles) of vertical climbs, 4,300m (14,000ft) maximum altitude, five camp sites, one rainforest, one Inca capital – and 687 cups of coca tea.”
- Anyone wishing to donate should go to: ww.justgiving.com/PhilN-BikeChallenge; www.justgiving.com/chris-kyle; www.justgiving.com/markmachupicchu; or www.justgiving.com/Krzystof-Maskalaniec
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