Julian aiming to pedal from Oulton to heart of Africa

MANY of us will have resolved to head to the gym more often or make a greater effort to get fitter this year.

But for one keen cyclist from Oulton, the challenge ahead in 2012 is a bit more daunting.

Julian Claxton, 31, is currently in training for a gruelling and potentially dangerous 6,000-mile journey to the heart of Africa. Along with three other cyclists, he will head off on April 28 from Bury St Edmunds on a 69-day ride through 15 countries, including regions ravaged by political strife as a result of the Arab Spring or tribal wars.

After crossing Europe, the freelance photographer and his companions will cross the Mediterranean and pass through Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya before arriving at their destination, Rwanda.

In doing so they hope to raise thousands of pounds in sponsorship for the Sport for Rwanda appeal to help children in the tiny nation which is still recovering from a brutal civil war in 1990-94. Set up 12 months ago, the appeal is aiming to raise �80,000 to purchase sports and education equipment for 140 schools and help more than 100,000 Rwandan youngsters gain access to sporting activities which they are not currently taught.

Mr Claxton, who is a member of the Great Yarmouth Cycling Club, was inspired to take part in his Cycle 2 Rwanda trek after meeting Mark Beaumont who broke the world record for cycling round the world in just 194 days.

On his journey, he will be carrying all his own camping and travel gear and he will be hoping to cycle an average of 130 miles a day.

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But he has been warned to avoid the Ethiopian border with war-torn Somalia and to be wary in certain parts of Kenya.

As Mr Claxton clocks up the miles, he will be using his camera to take pictures of the route – including its varied landscapes and the people he meets – for an exhibition afterwards. He said: 'When the opportunity of this trip was announced I knew it was for me as it combines my three passions – cycling, travelling and photography.

'The trip is going to offer the opportunity to document a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to be a significant part of the expedition will really provide me with a story to tell my grandchildren in the future.'

His ride has been boosted by a donation of a Koga bike by Yarmouth-based freight forwarding company, DAP UK.

Clive Julian, owner of DAP UK, said: 'When I heard what Julian and the team were doing, I just knew I had to support them. Cycling 6,000 miles without a support crew in such a short space of time is going to be real tough, and we wanted to get him the best bike we could, to help make the challenge a little more comfortable.'

Anyone who wishes to support Mr Claxton and the other cyclists can visit www.sportforrwanda.org

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