Peak practice pays off as cyclist has a grand time

Ralph Saelzer on his fund-raising ride.
Ralph Saelzer on his fund-raising ride.
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He’s a true mountain biker.

Ralph Saelzer has hit his £1,000 fundraising target after conquering a 250-mile route across India from Srinagar to Leh.

Ralph Saelzer on his fund-raising ride.

Ralph Saelzer on his fund-raising ride.

The 57-year-old from Washington, who is managing director of crane manufacturer Liebherr, took on the task after he was inspired to support the NSPCC by Allison Thompson, chairwoman of the charity’s Sunderland Business Board.

Ralph, along with his neighbour Gary Dodd, 50, a firefighter, pedaled a route that takes in Khardung La which, at 5,359 metres, is thought to be the highest motorable pass in the world.

Ralph said: “I do quite a lot of cycling – I cycle to work when I can and I ride at weekends with my wife and son.

“This started out as a cycling holiday for me and Gary, but after speaking to Allison, I thought it was also a good opportunity to support the great work of the NSPCC in Sunderland and help children here in the city.

The experience was most enjoyable - the people were fantastic, the cycling was challenging, the weather was sunny but not too hot and the scenery was simply out of this world.

Ralph Saelzer

“The experience was most enjoyable – the people were fantastic, the cycling was challenging, the weather was sunny, but not too hot and the scenery was simply out of this world.

“We were supported by a bike mechanic who also acted as a tour guide and thanks to his local knowledge, we were able to visit monasteries and see things that tourists wouldn’t usually see.

“The route could be off road, muddy and rocky at times, but it all added to the experience.

“Climbing the Khardung La on the last day was tough and I must admit, I stopped at 4,350 metres, but Gary cycled all the way to the top through snow showers and very difficult conditions.”

The money raised by Ralph’s challenge will help to fund the NSPCC’s Schools Service in Sunderland, which has already helped more than 8,200 children in the city to understand abuse and how to stay safe.

The NSPCC board is made up of businessmen and women from across Wearside who volunteer their time, expertise and contacts and aims to raise £80,000 a year to help fund the service.