GROUP of friends are taking to the saddle for two cycling challenges, to raise money for local hospices.

The six “Grips Riders” will be completing a gruelling 267-mile, off-road coast-to-coast ride across the UK, followed by a 100- mile London to Surrey road-ride.

Keen cyclists Pete Shrimplin, 48, from Eastwood, Richard Porter, 47, from Hadleigh, Mo Hart, 49, from Leigh, Gordon Popperwell, 52, from Hadleigh, Michael Bebbington, 41, from Canvey, and Robert Denman, 34, from Shoebury, met at Grips bike shop in Eastwood Road, Rayleigh, and borrowed its name for their team.

They have set themselves the challenge of raising at least £1,500 for Havens Hospices, which cares for seriously ill children and adults at its Fair Havens and Little Havens hospices in Westcliff and Thundersley.

They will set off on the coastto- coast challenge on June 15, and aim to complete it within five days, then they will join together again for the 100-mile road ride, on August 10.

Mr Shrimplin said: “We’ve all supported Havens Hospices in the past. As a local charity they help so many people to die with dignity.

“A good friend of mine was recently cared for at Fair Havens for three weeks before he died, and it reminded me just how valued their care is and spurred us all on to take on these challenges.

“We’d all like to thank our family, friends and colleagues for sponsoring and supporting us, Grips bike shop for supporting us with high energy snacks, and Continental Tyres for providing professional, cycling clothing.”

The team can be sponsored at Riders-2014-challenge