CROWDS cheered on the towns beloved Earley Panda as he crossed the finish line of the London to Brighton bike ride.

On Sunday, June 19, the Earley Panda took on a gruelling challenge cycling 59.4 miles from the big smoke to the seaside town.

The finishing line at Brighton beach suddenly turned into a loud cheer at the sight of a mysterious bear on the bike.

Among the Lycra clad cyclists, it was unusual to see a panda cycling and everyone on the finish line started chanting "Go Panda, Go Panda".

Earley Panda has been motivated to raise money for Action Medical Research, who fund vital research to save and change children’s lives, ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when the first lockdown struck.

Earley's mysterious bear, also now fondly known as Earley Panda has been a regular sight on the streets of Earley and Reading.

The local friendly neighbourhood panda last year joined paws with Paddington Bear, mascot of Action Medical research to raise vital funds for sick children and is training hard to cycle London to Paris in July.

Panda also recently cycled 60 miles from London to Essex as part of RideLondon.

The anoymous man behind the Panda costume said: "A point came where I couldn't cycle anymore. Like others, Earley Panda started walking. Yes, I am talking about the Ditchling Beacon where cyclists become pedestrians.

"Because I carry overnight clothing, bike locks, food, medicines, a first-aid box, and a touring heavy bike, it wasn't easy to pull it. There came a point where I couldn't even walk. That's when Panda turned into a snail. Scorching sun overhead, heavy sweating under the Panda head, I was barely walking when another cyclist crossed me, almost dragging his right foot.

"He had a terrible cramp. I asked him if he had electrolytes tablets, but he didn't have any. I had some spare ones, so I offered him some.

"He was very thankful for the kind gesture. So we both stopped. I took off my mask as I only take it off when I am not moving. I gave him the electrolyte tablet, and we chatted for 4-5 mins.

"And that hiatus, that kind interaction, those few minutes of knowing each other were enough for us to finish the Ditchling Beacon climb."

Earley Panda has a sizeable following across Facbook, Instagram and Twitter.

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