North End’s Head Groundsman Pete Ashworth talks to PNE.Com after his 200km charity bike ride in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.
Pete, who just last month was awarded Groundsman of the Year in League One, took time out from keeping the Deepdale pitch in pristine condition last weekend to cycle as far as Amsterdam in aid of the battle against prostate cancer.
Pete drove down to London on Thursday before cycling to Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium where all 150 riders tackling the challenge met.
After going through the rules and regulations, Pete and his fellow riders rode to Harwich, before catching an overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland.
Once they docked on Dutch territory the journey continued, travelling a further 80km before finishing the trip at the Amsterdam Arena, home of AFC Ajax.
Pete has so far raised £1,500 for the cause, and admitted once he saw the home of the four time European Champions, he was more than delighted to conclude his expedition after being unsure at first of his capabilities.
“Until I did it, I didn’t really know whether I’d be able to do it or not,” he exclusively told PNE.Com.
“Once I saw the stadium in the distance, I started hearing people urging me on, and it makes you cycle that little bit faster.
“I didn’t want to let the people who sponsored me down, so I was really happy I managed to finish it, because it shows you that you’re capable of doing something like that.”
Prior to the ride, Pete had the uphill task of preparing for a 200km cycle whilst ensuring the Lilywhites’ pitch was all in order for the remaining games of the season.
And the North End groundsman even had to find time initially in his gruelling schedule to purchase one of the necessities in cycling.
“When I signed up, I didn’t even have a bike!” joked Ashworth.
“But once I got one, I was doing 20 to 30 miles on it two to three times a week, as well as going to the gym a couple of times.
“I live near the Pennines where there are plenty of hills so I had some good training in preparation for them steep climbs.
“The last few weeks I slacked off a bit because of the Play-Offs and other commitments, but the furthest I’d got to before the trip was just under 70 miles.
“We got to Colchester’s ground which was around 67 miles, so once I got that far into the final ride it was all unknown to me, and I’ll admit the last ten killed me.”
As well as achieving the ultimate goal of raising money and awareness for prostate cancer, Pete was also able to crack a few jokes along the way with the rest of the cyclists who all had footballing connections.
“I didn’t know anyone before it, but obviously we’ve got things in common straight away because we’re all linked to football clubs.” Pete continued.
“When you get on the boat, you’re in a cabin with four people you don’t know, but with us being with each other for 90 miles we soon got to know each other and we had a great laugh.
“You’ve got to have a bit of banter otherwise it would have been hard work, and they were all really good lads.
“But as well as enjoying the experience, the main thing was to raise awareness for the charity, and money for the illness.
“Previously, women have taken on the breast cancer pink, and if someone says to you breast cancer, you think pink and you know all about it.
"With prostate cancer, even though it’s not a new illness, people are only starting to become aware of it now.
“They say one in eight men suffer from prostate cancer, and you see those 150 people who were doing it and you look at those figures and it really hammers it home.
“So doing something like this with everyone sending tweets and what not every time they stop on their bikes, it means there’s thousands of people seeing what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for.”
Despite Pete igniting a new passion for cycling, he won’t be swapping the pitch fork for a spot in the GB cycling team anytime soon.
“I’ve got a new lease of life and I felt as fit as ever once I finished, so I thought I’d better carry this on.
Although it’s helped me lose more weight, it’s good to be back at Deepdale and back to doing what I do best.”
Pete and the rest of the riders have now done their bit and it is up to you to say congratulations in the best way possible – by making a donation to this fantastic cause.