A KEEN long-distance cyclist is tackling six ultra-length challenges in four months to raise money for a Bradford mental health charity which helps his father.

Ben Rickaby, 42, says he loves the adventure and escapism of cycling, which has also helped his own mental health.

He has seen how the services at Mind in Bradford have helped his dad over the past few years, and wants to raise awareness of their work as well as cash to support the charity’s activities.

Ben, who grew up in the Addingham area and now lives with his girlfriend in Silsden, took up cycling about 12 years ago and has taken on some ultra-distance events in that time.

And the first five events he has planned for the Spring and Summer will build up his stamina and experience for the GB Duro in August, which is 2,000km (1,242 miles)from Land's End to John O'Groats on road, gravel, single track, and everything in between.

Ben, who works at the University of Leeds, said: “All of the events are totally unsupported so there is no outside help, no drafting other riders, and carrying all that we may need to survive the event (sleeping equipment, food, spare clothes).

“The event in August even specifies that you must sleep under the stars each night! Most rides involve 18hrs+ each day in the saddle.”

The first event is this weekend [1-3 May] and is the Dales Divide, a 600km (372 miles) route with a mixture of road and off road, with 9,000m of ascent.

It starts in Arnside, from where Ben will cycle to the East Yorkshire coast and then back to the West Coast - a Coast to Coast to Coast! He aims to complete it in less than 72 hours.

The next event later in May is the aptly-named Hell of the North West 800km (497 miles), a gruelling route across the most testing climbs that the North West of England has to offer. In total, the six events add up to a mammoth 5,000km (3,106 miles).

Lydia Gray, fundraising and development officer of Mind in Bradford, said: “Ben is taking on an enormous challenge, and hopefully a great adventure. We are so grateful to him for choosing to support us, and all money raised is spent on our services here in the Bradford district.”

Mind in Bradford is an independent charity which is affiliated to Mind. Services include Guide-Line, which offers mental health support vis the telephone on 08001 884 884 and live chat; Sanctuary crisis service; wellbeing groups for adults; the Community Companions befriending service; and Know Your Mind, a new service for children from the age of eight.

The charity has continued its services online and via phone throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, and is reopening some face-to-face help. Visit www.mindinbradford.org.uk for more information

To find out more, and sponsor Ben, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/benrickaby