500 miles in a week followed by playing in the UK Forum All Star weekend - not the average feat of endurance you’d expect from the off-season hockey player but the Lions' newly re-signed captain Luke Thomas will be embarking upon this momentous challenge starting this Monday (21st July), all in the aid of charities that lay close to the Lions blue-liner's heart.
This year Luke wanted to do something extra to help raise the profile of the UK Forum All Stars event, which is an annual charity hockey weekend that players of all levels can compete in, hosted at Ice Sheffield between 25-27th July.
This 'something extra' transformed into an idea for the 5 day, 500 mile bicycle challenge alongside his friend and all star regular Gareth Hubback and it all begins on Monday in Cardiff and finishes at Ice Sheffield (via Nottingham) on Saturday the 26th July.
Luke spoke to www.nottinghamlions.co.uk about his upcoming adventure; saying,
"Cycling and hockey are pretty far apart when it comes to preparation - one is about short, sharp efforts, working on specific plays, coupled with some explosive drills and cycling is all about endurance and being able to push the boundaries both physically and mentally."
However, the defenceman has one major plus gained from playing hockey; adding,
"Both skating and cycling use similar muscle groups, which gives me a slight advantage but the biggest challenge is being able to control your mental state and push through the pain barrier - in hockey, if I'm tired I get a change, in cycling, if I'm nearing the end of a long day or I'm on my way up a steep climb, the legs will be hurting but you need to push on through and finish what you started."
The 28 year-old could not have done this alone and thanks to Auto Claims Accident Management, Luke and Gareth will have a support vehicle ensuring that they stay safe on the gruelling hilly route to South Yorkshire.
They also have three main sponsors - Rapha, a high-end cycle clothing company (who also sponsor the Team Sky pro cycling team) have provided all required clothing, Luke Rowe, a professional cyclist with Team Sky has supplied all required nutrition products, whilst Leisure Lakes Bikes in Nottingham have offered a range of bike spares, equipment and accessories.
It’s not just the challenge inspiring the blue liner, he will also be supporting three charities, which he took the time to talk to us about:
"First up is Breast Cancer Care, a charity that is very close to my families hearts at the moment. My partner, who is only 27, recently underwent a double mastectomy, this is a surgical procedure on both breasts due to breast cancer and the average age of woman usually having this procedure is 48!"
Luke and his partner received a lot of support through this difficult time which leads on to his second charity.
"This surgery has seen us spent a lot of time at City Hospital Nottingham, where the Maggies Cancer Support Centre provides massive help and support to patients and their families dealing with such a terrible illness - a few weeks ago, thieves broke into the centre and took several safes containing funds raised over a weekend event, totalling thousands of pounds, which means they now need our help more than ever!"
Last but not least is the team that the Solihull-born D-man will be playing for during the UK Forum All Star game.
"The men and women of the armed forces are risking their lives on a daily basis and Help for Heroes provide an invaluable support network for those who are injured whilst protecting others."
All three charities will benefit from both the cycling and hockey events and with Luke already reaching his original target of £1000, he has now realigned his sites on raising an extra £500 on top of this.
Everyone at the Lions' pride wishes Luke and Gareth the best of luck and we look forward to following the duo's epic adventure, as it unfolds across the country over the next few days.