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June 7th, 2013

Cycling runs in the blood of many at The Mill, but every year a few brave volunteers swap the daily commute for something far more ambitious. Next week the Fireflies begin their epic 1,100km ride, now in its 13th year.


This year 2012 participant Ed Shires returns to the Fireflies ride, joining him are Tom Walters and Tara Demarco, who jets in from the LA office. Together they will join the ranks of fellow advertising and film bike enthusiasts and hard core riders in aid of a truly great cause; Leuka. The money raised during the ride supports the charity, which was formed to support research & treatment of Leukaemia at the Hammersmith Hospital, London.

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The ride will take them from their starting point in Geneva through to a well-deserved dip in the sea as they arrive jubilant at Cannes Lions on Wednesday 19th June! As ever, we will be keeping a close eye on our three riders so get your eyes glued to Twitter and Instagram for daily updates, along with a blog rundown of the highs and lows.

So, let's meet the riders…

Ed Shires

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Tell us a bit about yourself


Artist, Cyclist, Sibling, Son, Short Film lover, FireFly

How did you get involved in Fireflies?


My mum suffered and still suffers from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma which is a cancer of the blood. The combination of raising money for a cause I care about and the challenge of the Tour made it an irresistible event for me to take part in. I became involved in the strong cycling culture at the Mill through commuting. From there my cycling developed in to a way to keep fit and explore and soon enough people started to mention the FireFlies.

How is your training going?


I've managed to get a lot of training done this year which is great, mainly by taking part in sportives and the FireFly weekly training rides mixed in with a bit of gym work. I'm just focusing on making sure that I'm fully rested for the tour now!

Talk me through your cycling kit of choice?


FireFlies Colnago C59 Italia, Campagnolo Record Groupset, Fulcrum 1 Wheels.

What's been the biggest challenge so far?


Overcoming an ankle injury I picked up on last years tour! And not looking at the awful Alpine weather!

What element of Fireflies are you most looking forward to?


The sense of pride, humility and achievement in what you have achieved when you arrive in Cannes with your fellow Flies.

Tara Demarco

Sponsor her here

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Tell us a bit about yourself


I'm an American from Boston who has a special love for California. My favorite sport is actually snowboarding, but I am passionate about the fundraising that the fireflies do and the difference in cycle culture that comes with trying to do some good in the world rather than race someone to the top. I'm one of the flame leads in the LA office and I'm very grateful that my colleagues and clients over the past few months have been understanding of my training schedule. They have helped me immensely with their time and goodwill.

How did you get involved in Fireflies?


Jeff Robins and I used to ride around the boroughs when I worked for Mill NY. He came out for a Fireflies West in 2009 and gave the little nudge that I needed to try it for myself. I participated in the 2010 and 2012 Fireflies West rides despite some nagging knee issues. Many of my friends and family have been affected by Leukemia and breast cancer. Fireflies seems like an awfully good way to fight back a little. I'm dedicating my ride to specific people - Sabrina Elizondo, Cior Wills, Gib Stahl and Angela Easton.

How is your training going?


Training has been going well. I've actually hired a coach to keep me on track and give valuable feedback about things like heart rate, cadence, nutrition. It's been 5 days cycling and 1 day Pilates a week with 1 rest day since the beginning of March. Prior to that it was 4 days cycling with cross fit and Pilates since the beginning of the year.

Talk me through your cycling kit of choice?


Oh - arm warmers, extra padded shorts and a good gilet all the way! Also, well fit shoes and saddle help.

What's been the biggest challenge so far?


Training both days every weekend as well as three mornings a week before work. I'm SO looking forward to a lie-in in July.

What element of Fireflies are you most looking forward to?


Running into the sea in Cannes. Also, the mountain-top views. I'm a landscape photographer at heart so there may be a Holga and some film in my bag for rest day snaps.

Tom Walter

Sponsor him here

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Tell us a bit about yourself?


Currently I am the 3D Manager in Mill London, and have been at The Mill for about 6 years. I started riding with my Dad when I was 12, mostly to get fit for rugby. After a about a 7-10 year hiatus from cycling which involved mostly drinking and eating like I was still playing rugby, I realised that cycling would be the best route to do something I would enjoy and try and lose weight!

How did you get involved in Fireflies?


I have always wanted to take part in a big event to raise money for a great cause. When I started at The Mill, Fireflies had always been something I had seen but never dreamed I would be able to do. However over the past 3 years I started riding again, always with one eye on the chance to take part. Last year I watched Ed, Stu and Luke take part from The Mill. Having ridden with those boys up till then, I was gutted I didn't put my name down for it when I saw the photos and heard the stories. Instead I put my name down for 2013, and have been working towards it since I did.

How is your training going?


Going pretty well. I have clocked 2500miles this year. I have taken in some pretty epic sportives including the Fred Whitton in the Lake District, which was 112 miles in the pissing rain and had some climbs of 30% gradients....

Talk me through your cycling kit of choice?


I just love the fact I get to dress in Lycra, it does wonders for my figure! O hand my trusty shorter bike has done me great service over the past 4 years!

What's been the biggest challenge so far?


By a long way the biggest challenge has been trying to lose as much weight as possibly can. Chicken with salad or vegetables for lunch every day, is pretty tough to deal with once you hit about week 16....

What element of Fireflies are you most looking forward to?


Being able to do my bit for a great a cause, while getting to ride with a great group of people is definitely what I am looking forward to most.

Thanks Fireflies! Completing the ride is an amazing and challenging experience and I know everyone at The Mill would like to wish all of the Fireflies HUGE good luck on this year's tour.