THE loss of his tiny premature daughter four years ago is the inspiration for car sales manager Dan Sinclair to tackle a gruelling intercontinental cycle ride.

Born four years ago in January at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, little Scarlett was a twin. But while sister Millie survived, she suffered a complication with her bowels and died a month later.

Since then Dan from Stratton and his best mate Shaun Rudman from Royal Wootton Bassett, have devoted themselves to raising money for Action Medical Research, which funds research to help find new cures and treatments for babies and children facing all kinds of conditions.

But when they mount their trusty steeds and pedal off towards France tomorrow on a 300-mile route they know they are in for some serious saddle soreness.

It is the first serious cycling they have done since their teens when they took part in a 24-hour cycle marathon to raise money for a cycle speedway club.

“We haven’t really trained,” he confessed. “We planned on training. We bought the bikes probably four or five months ago, but we have just not really had time.”

Working six days a week and family life – both of them have young children - had got in their way and despite their good intentions the training plan had fallen by the wayside.

As they prepare to set off from Crystal Palace, having stocked up on talcum powder and Vaseline, they will be hoping for fair weather and a following wind.

“We’re going for it,” Dan said. “We hope to be able to stick with the group, but there are people on the ride who have done the route before and probably ride very day.”

It’s the first cycle ride the men, both sales managers for Cross Street Garage, have done for the charity.

So far their efforts have raised around £4,000 for the charity and have included completing midnight plod – a 50km trek through the night – on two occasions.

But they are keen to raise more, which is why they signed up for the charity’s London to Paris ride, which is one of the largest of its kind. So far they have raised more than £2,400 of their £4,000 target.

The charity founded in 1952 by a father searching for a cure for polio, paid for early research that helped to develop the first oral vaccine. Since then it has spent more than £117 million funding important breakthroughs like the discovering the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent children being born with spina bifida. It is currently providing financial support for research into conditions like asthma, cerebral palsy, malignant brain tumours, blindness and congenital heart disease.

Work to find new ways to help babies struggling in the womb and predicting who is at risk from stillbirth is also being backed along with protecting newborns from the often fatal bowel condition necrotising enterocolitis.

To sponsor Dan and Shaun visit