Eight legs, 8,000 miles, £80,000: Acle graduate and friends take on epic charity cycling challenge

Upping the Andes. Archie Innes in training

Upping the Andes. Archie Innes in training - Credit: Archant

The 800 mile route between Land's End and John O'Groats is a well-worn path for cyclists and runners on a fundraising mission.

Upping the Andes. L-R Tom Lawson, Toby MacKean, Archie Innes

Upping the Andes. L-R Tom Lawson, Toby MacKean, Archie Innes - Credit: Archant

But one Norfolk graduate is taking the end to end race formula to new heights as he prepares to tackle an epic 8,000 mile charity challenge, that will see him cover an entire continent from top to bottom.

Archie Innes is saddling up with three friends to take on the monumental ride along the length of South America's west coast - starting at the very southern end of Argentina and finishing up at the top of Colombia.

The four friends will take in tough terrain and changeable extremes, from the searing heat of the Atacama Desert to freezing high altitude trails through the Andes, and aim to complete the ride completely unaided, carrying 50kg kits with all their camping and survival equipment.

And the team have also set themselves an ambitious fundraising total as they hope to generate a whopping £80,000 to be split between four charities.

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Archie, from Moulton St Mary, is supporting Cancer Research UK and said he was keen to get in the saddle after months of planning.

'I'm just really excited about being absolutely in the middle of nowhere and totally self sufficient,' he added. 'South America is a beautiful place and I have wanted to go to Chile for years and years.

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'Only one of us has been before about five years ago so it's very much a new experience for all of us.'

The 22-year-old and his friends Thomas Lawson, 22, Guthrie Fenton, 22, and Toby Mackean, 21, who are all graduates of the University of Durham, struck upon their Upping the Andes challenge soon after finishing their exams.

Archie, a former Beeston Hall school student, said: 'We'd graduated and we thought this really is the perfect time in your life to do something big and different and hopefully make a difference while you do it.

'So we thought that we'd delay our working lives and do something a little bit mad. We wanted to do something on a massive scale and there's something nice about covering an entire continent.'

The team have put a lot of effort into their preparations and thought into how they are going to keep supporters updated on their five month journey, but Archie said they were keen to keep an element of the unknown about the trip.

'We have thought about the extremes and covering ourselves for potential dangers but apart from that we really want to keep it quite adventurous,' he added.

'We don't want to minutely say 'on the first day we'll go from here and get to there'. We wanted to keep some of the magic in it.'

The boys will be camping for most of their journey but when passing through towns and cities, including the world's highest capital Quito in Ecuador, they will enjoy some home comforts in hostels.

Training has now begun in earnest with the arrival of their special steel-framed touring bikes before they jet off on January 1.

The team will be gathering with their families for a huge send off party on New Year's Eve and will then be blogging and posting on social media to keep supporters, sponsors, family and friends updated along the way.

? For more information about their challenge, and details of how you can sponsor them, visit www.uppingtheandes.com

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