A MOTORCYCLIST who is raising money for the charity that saved his girlfriend’s life took the first step on a 20,500 mile-trek by saying a temporary farewell to his bike.

Family and friends gathered in St Ives to bid farewell to Sir Humphrey Bikeleby, the bright orange KTM 900 Adventure, which will be transporting Huntingdonshire doctor Chris Targett on a five-month journey around the South American coast.

The bike, which weighs 350 kilos fully-laden, was due to be flown out of Heathrow later this week. Dr Targett, who rode it to Heathrow on Monday, plans to be reunited with his trusty steed when he arrives at Buenos Aires Airport on January 30.

The 34-year-old had initially planned to ride 21,000 miles through Europe, Africa and Asia but was forced to change his plans because of unrest in the Middle East.

Dr Targett is doing the trip to raise money for medical emergency charity Magpas. His girlfriend Sam Lyon was helped by the charity after the car she was travelling in exploded, killing her younger brother and leaving her with burns to her hands and face.

"Up until now, this has been something to organise - it has all been very removed from my life," Dr Targett said. "All of a sudden, it is not removed anymore. I'm nervous and excited - I don't know what to do with myself. I keep walking around the front room.

"I'm really looking forward to riding out of the airport. Then I know I'm on my way. I can't wait."

After encountering problems gaining visas for Libya and Iran, the A&E locum doctor decided to revise his plans. Shunning the USA as "full of lovely tarmac", Dr Targett opted for South America instead.

From Buenos Aires he will make his way through Chile, across the Andes mountain range to Colombia and Venezuela before taking a boat to Guyana and French Guiana, and then back down the eastern coast to return to Buenos Aires five-and-a-half-months later.

As well as clothing for extreme temperatures he will encounter on the way, among the surprise items he will be taking is a packet of Viagra.

The doctor explained: "I want to go over the Andes and the route I have chosen takes me up to 19,000 feet. At that height you could suffer a pulmonary edema. I will take Viagra and diuretics to stop that from happening."

The Sawtry resident has so far raised £5,000.

His girlfriend Sam, now 31, was just seven years old when the car she and her brother Antony were travelling in was hit by a lorry near Bassingbourn.

Anthony, aged five, died immediately.

INFORMATION: Dr Targett will be holding a leaving celebration at Peterborough Greyhounds on January 27. Entry and a fast food meal for £1. All proceeds to Magpas. Details as well as tickets for a Grand Charity Ball on Friday, October 19 at Chilford Hall, Cambridge, are available from www.tiggerstravels.org