A PELETON of 37 cyclists from Britain's oldest wine & spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd has completed the London to Champagne challenge to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

The distance travelled was 325 miles with over 3000 meters elevation which coincidentally marked the 325th anniversary of the company.

And organisers want to raise £325,000 to help end Motor Neurone Disease in 2017.

One of their employees David Zyw was diagnosed with MND in 2017.

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David who captains Team Edinburgh in Doddie Aid was determined to take part.

And when the company advertised for riders to take part they were inundated with volunteers.

Many of the group were brand new to bike riding, others very experienced, some new to the company, and others longstanding employees.

Border Telegraph: David Zyw and Lizzie RuddDavid Zyw and Lizzie Rudd (Image: ,Berry Bros. & Rudd)

The peloton took off from St James’s in London at first light on Thursday September 7 and the  plan was to arrive in Champagne, Pol Roger Epernay, on the evening of Sunday September 10.

The first day consisted of 11-hours with 95-miles covered between the capital and Dover.

The second day started with an early ferry crossing.

The route serendipitously traced the ancient geological strata of Cretaceous chalk band which connects the Champagne region with much of the South Coast of England.

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Despite David’s  best efforts to fight its effects, the muscle wasting in his upper body meant that the 11 hour previous day had sapped any strength he had to remain upright on his bike. He dropped behind the group as he  couldn’t lift his head to see the road.

So before he fell off, or caused an accident, David pulled the plug, watching his  fellow rides zoom away.

After a quick medical assessment, his bike was placed on the roof rack, and he got into one of the support vehicles.

David said: “I was devastated. Despite my training, my meds, my personal fortification, the disease beat me down that day.

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“I felt helpless and feeble, knowing that everyone else had the strength to push through to complete the day when I could not.

“I was terrified that this would happen again over the following days, which signalled not only I’m not in control of my symptoms, but also they are progressing faster than expected, despite my best efforts to own my narrative.

“From the back seat of an air con SUV, notwithstanding the pain in my neck, I could not be prouder of the peloton who rallied and fought through the sticky heat of industrial northern France to complete day two. The halfway point.

“We all fell asleep to the sounds of Pierre Bettinger, of Champagne Leclerc Briant, singing La Marseillaise after France’s victory over New Zealand.

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Day three involved a 100km route and the grup were joined at this point by friends from Champagne Mailly, Chateaux la Nerthe & Ornellaia, who injected fresh legs and energy into the group.

The route took them along quiet roads rolling through agricultural fields, past war graves, after war graves. A constant reminder that this landscape is still healing from the devastation WW1 & 2.

By the afternoon, the temperature reached 40c and one member was involved in a nasty crash but refused to give up and the day finished watching England beat Argentina.

The final day concluded with David and Lizzy (Rudd)  leading the peloton up the neat cobbles of Avenue de Champagne.

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David continued: “It’s a memory I will forever cherish. Even after four days of cycling and with 325 miles in her legs, Lizzy had the strength to power up the last climb, to the roars of praise from the riders behind, we turned into the gates of Pol Roger where owner Hubert de Billy, and our incredible support teams were waiting.

“Tears of joy and exhaustion brought us together in this special moment, united in the shared suffering of a long four days in the saddle.

“Looking around that group, the pride in our own and each other’s achievements dulled any pain in our legs, or necks.

“325 miles, two countries, four days, 12 punctures, new friendships forged, and countless litres of electrolytes consumed.  These are four days I will never forget, the road pushed us out of our comfort zones, and mentally and physically challenged us all.

“To date we have raised £344,500 for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, every pound we raised will go directly to aid research into treatments and help those living with the condition.

“And I cannot be more grateful to my fellow riders, the producers who joined, and my resplendent employer, Berry Bros. & Rudd, for enabling us to achieve an incredible sum for charity, but also the pride the company has allowed us to have, and the culture it has created.

“It is a rare privilege to work for a business where kindness, support, generosity of spirit and family values runs at its core.

“Thank you to every rider, Zeus Events, our incredible support crew, and to everyone who donated. Together, and only together, can we make a difference; the money we raise will get us closer to banishing MND to the annals of time. “