A FORMER soldier is preparing to cycle the length of Mexico to raise cash for a cause close to his heart.
Paul Hooper, 46, will cycle 631km in just eight days in a bid to raise £5,000 for Help for Heroes.
He will travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, coast to coast from east to west, in November next year.
Mr Hooper, from Flore, said: “I’m an ex-army man and I did a stint in the Territorial Army around five years ago, so Help for Heroes is a charity dear to me.
“I do a lot of running, around 25 to 30 miles a week, and I’ve done many half-marathons and full marathons.
“But this time I wanted to do something a bit more challenging, because if people are going to part with their hard-earned money then I need to push myself.
“I know I can do a marathon but for me this bike ride will be much more difficult.
“I did a 30km bike ride a couple of weeks ago and I felt like jelly afterwards so it’s going to be tough.”
Mr Hooper was inspired further after visiting Headley Court, a rehabilitation centre for injured members of the armed forces based in Surrey.
He added: “After visiting the centre it put it in perspective what some of the soldiers have gone through.
“I just want to raise as much money as possible to support them.”
The married dad-of-two will travel through tropical farmland, dense jungle and pine forests on the adventure, but he is confident of being up to the challenge.
Mr Hooper said: “The challenge is a Help for Heroes expedition so there will be about 25 to 30 of us taking part.
“It’ll be good to have a team of us doing it, I think we will spur each other on.
“My family are also very supportive. They believe in the charity and my wife knows how much it means to me.
“It’ll be a great adventure and I’ve funded the trip myself so all the money I raise will go towards the charity.”
Mr Hooper is now planning a host of fundraisers over the next year including races and pub quizzes.
If you’d like to support his bike ride and donate to Help for Heroes visit www.bmycharity.com/paulhooperonyerbike.