AN AVID cyclist is looking to complete his toughest challenge yet when he tackles a gruelling 100-mile bike ride through mid Essex.

Mel Fordham, 62, is doing the ride in aid of a breast cancer unit after admitting he has been blown away by the work done there.

He will be cycling from Blackmore, up through Witham towards the Blue Egg cafe in Great Bardfield.

He will then double back and head south through Braintree, down to Heybridge and Burnham on Crouch before completing a loop and finishing at Blackmore.

Mr Fordham, who is semi-retired, completed a 99-mile bike ride in London last year but will be smashing his record by four miles if he is able to complete his latest challenge.

He said: "I do enjoy going for a ride but generally I stick to the 50-mile mark so this is going to be a real challenge.

"The really long rides I have done before have been in groups which is a lot easier because you have that support.

"But this time, I'll be doing it completely by myself so it's going to be that bit harder. I will also have to be doing it alongside cars and lorries so it's going to be tough.

"I've been training for it but nothing can prepare you for something this big. At some point I'll hit a mental and physical wall where I'll think 'why am I doing this?'.

"But it's for a great cause and I'll do everything I can to get over the line."

Mr Fordham says he chose to raise cash for the breast cancer unit at the Alexandra Hospital in Harlow after hearing a number of heartbreaking stories of patients fighting terminal illness.

He too has had his own experiences with cancer, with both his brother and cousin's wife battling different forms of the disease in the past.

Donors have already helped smash his original target of £250 and he hopes he can continue to raise hundreds more.

He added: "Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer so it's for a great cause.

"But the work done by the unit is amazing. They share all their findings across the world - there's never any geographical boundaries.

"It's all about helping as many people as they can which is phenomenal."

Mr Fordham has also teamed up with world-renowned wine master, Dirceu Vianna, for the challenge.

Anyone making a donation to Mr Fordham's cause will be automatically entered into a draw which could see them win a case of wine.

To make a donation, search riding a bike 103 miles at