A GROUP of fundraising cyclists have a unique distraction method planned to take the pain away from a 100-mile cycle event.

Over 50 members of social cycling group, FTO Hereford, plan to sing their way through the Vélo Birmingham event while raising a target of £30,000 for blood cancer patients.

FTO Hereford is a quirky take on the name of Hereford's former pro cycling team NFTO (Not For The Ordinary).

The group are using their weekly training riders- which set off from the Bunch of Carrots pub, Hampton Bishop, every Sunday morning – to prepare for the closed road event on September 24.

Phil Brace, co-organiser of FTO Hereford, said: “When our legs start to burn, my fellow ride organiser Tim Pattison will start singing and gets everyone else joining in.

“He has a great voice. He’s a Rat Pack sort of guy, so it’s either a Sinatra or Buble track. He’ll even adapt the lyrics to suit the cyclists and scenery around him.

“Vélo Birmingham is quite a challenging course, so we’ll be in for a right sing song!”

Some 15,000 entries have been sold for the event and FTO Hereford are among almost 730 cyclists fundraising for Cure Leukaemia at Vélo Birmingham.

The money will be used to expand the world class Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at Birmingham’s QE Hospital, which enables blood cancer patients across the West Midlands to access potentially lifesaving treatments.

Phil is delighted that the route will take in his native Herefordshire countryside which sees it pass through Bromyard.

“It’s shaping up to be a fantastic, superbly organised event,” added the 51-year-old.

“Allowing thousands of cyclists onto closed roads is great for the region’s health, tourism and, of course, charities. I can see nothing but positives that the route is coming through Herefordshire.

“There are lots of hills around here, so it’s going to be a challenging course, but we train every week on hills. Hills are our friends!”

The group are well on their way to reaching their fundraising target thanks to an annual charity ball Phil throws.

This year’s bash saw a barn at Lyde Arundel – donated free of charge by the venue – converted into the set of Wham’s ‘Club Tropicana’ video.

“We’re lucky to be fit and well and even when it gets tough on the bike, it’s nothing compared to what blood cancer patients are going through,” added Phil, who became fully aware of Cure Leukaemia’s work after meeting patron Geoff Thomas – the former England and Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 – at a fundraising event.

“We raised around £60,000 when we rode Cure Leukaemia’s London 2 Paris event two years ago and we’re looking for another big total.

“Blood cancer is an horrific disease which has affected the lives of a business partner and a family friend. I’ve also seen the evidence of how Cure Leukaemia are helping patients in Herefordshire.”

You can donate to their cause by visiting: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/FTOHereford