A keen cyclist has become the first person to complete a charity’s 1,000-mile bike challenge, reaching the target in less than a month.

Gina Cleere, who lives in Basildon, was inspired to take part in the Cycling Down Dementia challenge, hosted by Alzheimer’s Research UK, in recognition of her dad.

Gina’s dad, Michael Elliott, 77, was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago and is now in a care home.

The initiative, which launched at the beginning of November, challenges cyclists to ride either 300 or 1,000 miles before the end of January and raise £150 for pioneering dementia research.

However, Gina, who is one of the top female long-distance cyclists in the country, reached 1,000 miles before the end of November and has set a new target of 3,000 miles.

The Essex Roads Cycling Club member has been riding around 300 miles a week, although this is 100 miles less than her usual weekly training distance – around 30 hours of cycling – as she is recovering from deep vein thrombosis in her calf.

The 36-year-old said: “Cycling Down Dementia is a fabulous challenge.

“It combines something I love, cycling long distances, with a cause that’s very close to me as my dad has dementia. Dementia is terrible because it robs you slowly every day.”

Gina, who works as an online retail manager for Tesco, only took up cycling in 2015. She was looking for a new activity after having to give up competing in dressage when her horse died.

After buying a bike through the Bike2Work scheme, she took to the sport with a vengeance and has had a lot of success, including breaking the Tilnar Challenge ladies’ distance record and finishing as top female at the Le Mans Velo 24-hour race and Revolve 24 at Brands Hatch.

Gina said cycling long distances has helped her cope with the stress of seeing her father’s decline with dementia.

She said: “I’m addicted to cycling, I absolutely love it. When I’m out on my bike my mind is clear and I don’t have to think about the things that affect me, like my dad’s dementia.”