Firefighters cycle from Oldham's Coliseum Theatre to Rome's Colosseum on charity cycle mission

Video report by Jahmal Williams-Thomas

A group of firefighters from Oldham have cycled from the town's iconic Coliseum theatre, to the actual Colosseum in Rome to raise money for causes close to their hearts.

Known as the Blazing Saddles, they have managed the 1,454 mile trip to the Italian capital in just 12 days.

The cyclists left Oldham’s 138-year-old Coliseum theatre on 19 July and arrived at Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum, on 30 July, covering around 140 miles each day.

They endured torrential rain in the UK, blistering heat in France, and almost 60,000 feet inclines across the Alps.

"It feels amazing!" said Greg Punshon. "We didn't think we would get here a few times, but we pushed on."

"One of the lad's broke his pedal one day" said Chris Dean, a retired firefighter. "The support van was miles away so we ended up pushing him for 14 miles - I've never seen anything quite like it!

The team conquered one of the hardest mountain passes, which is a part of the Tour de France route.

The support from people at home has been fantastic: "said Greg Punshon. "The messages of support really kept us going."

There was also support too from the Italian fire service, who provided an escort for the final part of the journey into the capital.

The ride is raising money for The Firefighters Charity, SANDS, Back Up, Parkinsons UK and Arts Emergency - in response to the closure of Oldham's Coliseum Theatre.

The group have cycled more than 1,400 miles to Rome from Oldham. Credit: Blazing Saddles

Funds raised will be added to the £100,000 already raised by the group from previous challenges.

Blazing Saddles formed 10 years ago when a small group of firefighters from Oldham Fire Station decided to raise money through a cycling challenge for the Firefighters Charity and SANDS.

The riders cycled 176 miles in a day visiting the fire stations of Greater Manchester and Blazing Saddles was born.

Following the success of the first fundraiser, the team went on to complete the Pure 3 Peaks Challenge in 2014, then cycled back from Kranj in Slovenia, Oldham’s twin town, in 2016, and most recently cycled 1600 miles from Gibraltar Street in Oldham to Gibraltar.