Rory’s huge Tour de France challenge

A TEACHER is taking on an epic cycle challenge to raise money for a new charity cafe which will help adults with learning disabilities into work.

Rory Mansfield, from Staple Hill, and his friend Ben Cannel, who recently lived in Mangotsfield, plan to ride the entire route of this year’s Tour de France – including the sections between stages that the race competitors will cover using motorised transport.

In total they will ride 4,529 km (2,814 miles) in no more than 23 days – the same amount of time the race itself will take to cover the official 3,404km (2115 mile) route.

The pair are raising money for PROPS, a charity based at the Vassall Centre in Oldbury Court, which is planning to turn an empty shop on Fishponds Road into a cafe run by adults with learning disabilities.   

Project 769 will be a fully-accessible café offering drinks, food and products handmade by trainees, with space for workshops and meetings.  

Rory said: “We decided to support PROPS because they are a local charity doing fantastic work in the area I live in.

“Although larger charities obviously do incredible things, there is something much more tangible and uplifting about supporting an organisation that is directly improving peoples’ lives who might live next door to you.”

Rory and Ben, who met through a local cycling club, will start their journey in Bilbao on July 11, ten days after the Tour sets off from the city in Spain’s Basque region. They aim to reach Paris on August 2.  

Rory said: “As a young cyclist, the Tour de France represented the pinnacle of athletic endeavour, outlandish adventure and a 3-week immersion into some of the most glorious landscapes on Earth.”

Rory said that they aimed to “rediscover simplicity and audacity of the Tour”, in contrast to the modern commercialised race, and would be fully self-supporting, sleeping in tents and riding the extra miles between stages on what would be rest days for the official race.

They will also climb more hills and mountains, tackling 62,321 metres elevation as opposed to 55,086m in the official race.

Rory’s training has included 86 laps of Belmont Hill in North Somerset in one day on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, while Ben, an engineer, is riding across Europe from Portugal to Norway on the European Divide Trail.

To sponsor the riders visit the PROPS website at

They are posting updates from the ride on Instagram at les_lanternes_rouges.