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Suiting up for Tour de France... from your lounge room

As cycling fans across the capital prepare to warp their sleeping patterns to watch the Tour de France, 77-year-old Lyle Swann is suited-up and prepared to pedal along with the peloton.

With a bike already set up in his living room, Mr Swann said June 29 could not arrive quickly enough.

As part of the international charity event, the Tour de Lounge, every kilometre Mr Swann clocks-up will go towards raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.

“As much as cycling is a big part of my life, blood disease has been an ongoing concern in our family,” he said.

One of 13 siblings, Mr Swann lost his mother, a younger sister, a niece and a nephew to leukaemia.

Mrs Swann said she enjoyed watching the Tour with her husband, but showed her support from the comfort of an armchair, rather than seat of a bike.

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“He'll never stop riding, he's either going to die on his bike or in the garden, he certainly won't die in bed,” she said.

A self-proclaimed fitness freak, Mr Swann said the combination of cycling and working with the Leukaemia Foundation was a natural fit.

“I'm going all in for this one. I've contacted every family member, friend, doctor and acquaintance in the hope they'll support what I'm doing,” he said.

“On the coldest, frostiest morning, the hardest push of the pedal is the first one. Just like trying to rally people to a cause, you just need to get those wheels spinning.”

Now in its third year, the Tour de Lounge was originally dreamed up by Sydney-sider Tim Grossman as a way to keep preoccupied while his wife underwent treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Mr Swann said it was the perfect excuse to get in some quality time with the guys on tour, whether he stayed up into the night or watched a recording in the early hours of the morning.

Participants elected to ride 250km, 500km or 1000km, strapped onto bikes in their livings rooms while the Tour plays out on TV.

Mr Swann undertook a 500km commitment on the bike, to be completed over the same time period as the Tour de France between June 29 and July 21.

The discovery of an irregular heartbeat led doctors to suggest Mr Swann should restrict the intensity of his fitness pursuits in his later years.

“I think I'll get close to 1000km, but I had a fear of committing to anything over 500 because of this heart problem, not to mention my wife would have been a nervous wreck,” Mr Swann said.

“I can keep my heart rate steady on the bike, I think more than anything that bike means freedom. I only hope that by boosting awareness out there through riding I can help give a different type freedom to someone suffering from leukaemia,” he said.

To get involved, head to tourdelounge.com.

Join the conversation over at the Lycra Diaries - a dedicated Facebook page for Canberra's cycling community.

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