IRONMAN Pete Sissons is swapping Wearside for the wilds of Iceland to help the charity which has supported his wife through a cruel disease.
The 33-year-old, who lives in Philadelphia, is part of a four-strong group who are in intense training for the 14-day trek which will take in 1,600 miles, two continental plates and one massive volcano.
The aim of the challenge, which starts in August, is to circumnavigate Iceland in a fortnight on bikes in aid of alopecia charity BeBold.
Each year, the charity hosts an annual summer camp for those affected by the condition to help build self esteem and confidence and the trek will help to raise vital funds for camps in the future.
It helps sufferers – including Pete’s wife Lorraine – to come to terms with the auto-immune condition, which causes sufferers to lose their hair.
As well as tackling unpopulated wilderness, the fund-raising group will need to down their bikes for a section of the trek to climb Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur, which stands at 2119m tall.
The group may also have to wade through waist-deep water due to glacial ice melt.
Pete said: “We will be riding between 130 and 160 miles a day, dealing with flat terrain, lots of hills, terrible roads, river crossings, sand flies, volcanic ash. On top of that, we will carry everything we need to live and stay safe.”
Pete, who works as an accounts manager, added: “The aim is to help BeBold, so the challenge is secondary really. My wife has alopecia so I know how hard it is for an adult to deal with, so it must be particularly hard for kids. We would love to be able to fund the summer camp for the next two years.
“We are all generally fit but we have all had to raise our game. We are under no illusion, it’s going to be a hard trip. The conditions out there are unpredictable and you hear horror stories about constant wind in your face.
“The only thing that is set in stone with the ride is that we land in Keflavik (a town in south-west Iceland) and take off from Keflavik 16 days later.
“We don’t know what to expect, the weather, terrain, how we feel that day will all have an effect on how many miles we can ride and therefore where we will stop that night.
“There are many things we will have to overcome, the main one being fresh water.
“We will be in the middle of nowhere, no taps, very few shops and we can only carry so much.
“One option is to melt water from the glacier. Stream water is another. The other thing we need is food, lots of it.
“Again,we can only carry so much, so we are going to have to keep it simple, probably pasta and porridge.”
l To sponsor the team, visit www.icemen.bebold.org.uk.