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Reporter Paul uses pedal power for Indian dream

Weston & Somerset Mercury reporter Paul Burton has helped to raise more than £7,000 for charity after completing a mammoth bike ride across the Indian state of Rajastan.

The 20-year-old completed the 500km ride, through colourful cities, national park and vast stretches of desert, with his mum Denise, for Bristol charity Challenging Cancer and Leukaemia in Children.

The pair joined a team of more than 40 people who took part in the journey from the Taj Mahal in Agra to the Pink City of Jaipur.

Tackling up to 90 miles of bumpy Indian roads a day, Paul said there was barely enough time to take in the sights in between the frantic pedalling.

He said: “After admiring the Taj Mahal we were thrust straight into the indescribable chaos of Agra’s roads.

“I think I only covered about 100 metres in the first half an hour. I turned into the city centre and was confronted with a herd of cows, several hundred rickshaw taxis, camels and cars constantly honking their horns, all jostling for the same space.

“I can’t really put it into words. India isn’t something you understand until you’ve been there.

“We passed through countless villages, made up of mud huts and buildings from the 1940s that had fallen into disrepair.

“A lot of the people we passed at the side of the road had never encountered white skinned people before and we were the subject of a lot of attention.

“But it wasn’t all madness and we saw a different side when we were cycling through the desert in the searing heat.

“It was physically the hardest thing I have ever done but a once in a lifetime experience I would recommend to anyone.”

  • Paul’s fundraising total could yet double, as he plans to apply for the match funding scheme run by the Mercury’s publisher, Archant.