Knebworth cyclist Mark closes in on Miami after coast-to-coast Race the World charity challenge
- Credit: Archant
Where’s the furthest you’ve been on your bike? Down to the shops? A Sunday morning ride to blow away the cobwebs?
Spare a thought for Mark Pittaccio, who is now on the 13th day of a coast to coast trip from Los Angeles to Miami to raise cash for young people in need.
Mark is taking part in the marathon ride as part of Race the World, a supported team cycling challenge for amateur riders.
The 2,700-mile course is split into 13 stages over two weeks.
“I’ve been called the Eddie the Eagle of cycling – talentless but determined!” the 52-year-old from Knebworth said.
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“Awesome is an overused word in the States, but it is an accurate description of this experience.
“There’s something about being able to cross a continent, and there’s just something even more extraordinary at being the first group doing so in this way.”
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The former rugby coach has so far raised more than £2,200 for the William Wates Memorial Trust, a charity that tries to help vulnerable youngsters through sports, arts and education.
Mark, who works for stockbrokers Charles Stanley, is part of a team of seven men and one woman riding against both the clock and a rival team. Each side must each have at least three riders on the tarmac at any time.
The race across the States has taken Mark across the Santa Monica Mountains from LA to Arizona, then east through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama to Florida.
He and his team are now heading south towards Miami, where they will finish looking out over the Atlantic.
Mark’s no stranger to marathon charity challenges.
He’s already tackled a charity ride around the UK, and also took part in the first public Tour de Force, in which amateur cyclists follow the entire route of the annual Tour de France, one week ahead of the professionals.
“I initially thought a completion of the whole 3,600 kilometre route one week before the pros was crazy,” said Mark. “How was a rather dented, battered and ageing rugby player going to cover all that distance?
“I have coached sport for 25 years and so it was all about manageable goals.
“Rather than one 3,600 kilometre ride it was really around 80 two-hour rides. It was an extraordinary experience.
“A charity version of the Giro d’Italia and another Tour de Force followed, then came the Spring Classics and the Monuments and that has led me to Race the World.”
To ensure a level playing field, all Race the World participants are using the same model of all-road bike, tyres and other kit.
The contest is scored by stage and Mark’s team took the honours in all of the first four stages. They were ahead by a solitary point as they went into stage 11.
And the challenge won’t stop in Miami – the USA marathon is planned as the first leg of a truly global challenge – European, Central Asian, East Asian and Australasian Race the World courses are also planned.
For more information visit racetheworldcycling.com.
To support Mark’s fundraising drive, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkPittaccio.