Thieves have stolen a Chorley man's bike just days before he embarks on a charity ride to support a friend battling a debilitating disease.
Robert Cronin, 40, is just days away from the challenge of a lifetime - cycling one of the steepest peaks of the Tour de France.
The gruelling climb - known as the Alpe d'Huez - is being undertaken to help raise money for Rob's friend and Lancashire Police officer, David Fairhurst.
David's 15-year career with the Armed Response Unit was brought to an abrupt end in 2017 when he was diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease.
In June 2017, at the age of 39, David collapsed during a routine police fitness test. The father-of-two had been running when his leg suddenly went into spasm and he collapsed on the floor.
A few days later, a neurological specialist at Salford Royal Hospital delivered the devastating news to David and his wife.
The consultant diagnosed him with incurable ALS – the same strain of motor neurone disease which affected renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
READ DAVE'S STORY HERE: Chorley wife battles to save 'her hero's' independence after devastating diagnosis
David's brave battle with the debilitating disease inspired friends and colleagues to embark on fundraising challenges to support him.
Best friend Rob said he chose one of the most challenging climbs on the Tour de France route in an attempt to raise £1,000 for his friend.
But yesterday evening (July 17), whilst training for the upcoming ride, his bicycle was stolen from South Ribble Tennis Centre in Bamber Bridge.
Rob and his wife Amanda and their two children are due to travel to France on Tuesday, July 23 and are now in a race against time to find a replacement bike.
Rob said: "For the last few months I have been training very hard and taking every opportunity to get on the bike, hence why I cycled to South Ribble Tennis Centre to play 5-a-side football.
"But after finishing the match, I found my bike had gone. We're leaving for France in a few days for the charity ride and I don't know what we're going to do.
"Dave is an armed police officer who has regularly put his life on the line to protect us all, but two years ago we received the devastating news that he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
"Dave, his wife Lynsey, their children Matilda and Annabelle and dogs Sam and Bob have always spent their free time enjoying the great outdoors, but this now comes at a vastly increased cost.
"He never complains about his situation and embraces everything available to assist him. I don't want to let him down, so I'm appealing to anyone who might be able to help by lending a bike, or helping find my bike, so I can complete the challenge and fulfil my commitment to Rob.
"I will attempt to cycle up one of the highest categorised and most iconic climbs on the Tour de France route and with the generosity of the people of Lancashire, we can help support the Fairhurst family with the increased cost of enjoying their precious leisure time.
"I would love to raise £1,000 to help the Fairhurst family live life to the full, while Dave continues to bravely battle the disease."
Rob's £600 custom-made bike (pictured) had a distinctive Deda 35 red stem fitted upside down with a carbon fibre frame. Rob built it himself specifically to suit his riding style.
If you would like to support Rob with his fundraising, you can visit his crowdfunding page.
Or if you can help provide Rob with a replacement bike to complete his fundraising challenge, you can email him on email@example.com