Sugar Run 2016

A MOTORBIKING couple have set off on an 8,500-mile road trip to Russia to raise awareness of diabetes.

Gert van Kerkoerle, 45, left Colchester to embark on the two-month adventure which will take him and girlfriend of five years Katrin Dittrich through Holland, where he grew up, Germany, Poland, Belarus and then to Russia.

Problems with Mr Kerkoerle’s eyes lead to him being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago. Since then, the motorcycle enthusiast has sought to combine his 27-year passion with a desire to bring more attention to the killer disease. The pair will travel on separate bikes with a Diabetes UK-branded sidecar in tow The pair also plan to visit Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland on their way back to England for June 16.

Mr Kerkoerle, who restores vintage Land Rovers from his Great Bentley garage, said: “We undertook a trip to the North Cape and Arctic Circle in 2014 to raise awareness of diabetes and are really excited to be undertaking an even bigger adventure.

“It has taken a lot of organising. It is entirely self-funded but we’re looking forward to meeting lots of people to raise the profile of the condition and the charity. “People think life stops once you have diabetes and I like to show them different. “

Camping is not very popular in Russia and on days where, for example in Poland we rode 300 miles in the rain, a hotel room is a nice treat, especially a warm shower. “Hotels in Russia are on average £12 for the two of us with breakfast. “We also plan to link up with organisations associated with diabetes.”

About 15 Essex businesses have sponsored the Sugar Run, including LW Fitness, Impact Coatings, Colchester Breakers and Percival

Coachworks.

Teresa Strange, Diabetes UK eastern fundraiser, said: “Gert is inspiring. He is committed to combining his love of motorbikes with raising awareness of diabetes. “

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