The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 27, 2010

British firefighters embark on righteous ride

Coast-to-coast trip to raise funds for charity

NORTH MANKATO — British firefighter Ray Molyneux is only about halfway through his cross-USA bicycle trek, but he already has a sobering impression of America:

“I’m surprised how big it is.”

Molyneux and three fellow firemen from Cheshire, England — Matt Hancock, Mark Lingard and Tony Sullivan — spent Saturday night at the North Mankato Fire Station on Howard Drive before heading back out on the road early Sunday.

Their daunting quest is to cover the 3,600 miles from Astoria, Ore., to New York City in 49 days. Object: to raise 30,000 pounds (about $45,000 in U.S. money) from pledges and sponsorships for a charity dedicated to aiding the families of firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty and child victims of fires.

The foursome is making the trek at their own expense and are using their total yearly leave time to make the May 28 to July 16 ride.

They have only four scheduled days off during the trip in which they’re averaging about 85 miles a day.

On Saturday, they rode 97 miles from Worthington to North Mankato. Tim Polhlman, North Mankato fire chief, rode with them from Lake Crystal. On Sunday, the visitors rode on to Rochester.  

The British riders stay at fire stations all along their route to keep expenses down.

They trained for their trip by riding about 85 miles a day and said they wanted to tackle a U.S. trek because of the challenge; they conquered England on an earlier ride.

The U.S. ride was Sullivan’s idea, and he said it took five years to gain permission from higher-ups.

The riders, ranging in age from 32 to 52, are none the worse for wear, pounding plenty of water to stay hydrated and eating anything and everything to stay fueled.

Even so, Sullivan said the ride has been an inadvertent diet. He’s lost so much weight he had to buy a belt to keep his britches up.

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