A HAIRDRESSER thought his “heart would come out of his mouth” while completing the London to Brighton bike ride in memory of two friends.

Martin Panameno, from Battersea in London, rode in memory of his friends Fabio Bonelli and Bev Pascoa yesterday.

The 55-year-old worked with them at Richard Ward hairdressers in London but they both died from cancer in the same year.

Martin decided he would complete the 54-mile ride in their memory, wearing a picture of them for its duration. The sign read "in loving memory".

The Argus: Around 15,000 people took part in the rideAround 15,000 people took part in the ride

He told The Argus: “I have never done anything like it before, especially Ditchling Beacon. I thought my heart was coming out of my mouth!

“At the end, I got cramps as well. I thought I wouldn’t finish. But the pain and suffering I went through is nothing compared to what they went through.

“I did a bit of training, I didn’t expect it to be that hard. I have never ever done it before.

The Argus: Martin after completing his ride in memory of his palsMartin after completing his ride in memory of his pals

“Cycling around London is nothing compared to that. I’m used to cycling around Hyde Park.”

Martin has worked at the hairdressers for 27 years, since 1995, and knew Fabio and Bev for around 20 years.

He raised £2,500 for the British Heart Foundation.

Martin added: “We were work colleagues, Fabio was an amazing guy, Bev as well. They both died from cancer within a year of each other.

The Argus: Two bikers enjoying a well-deserved sit down on the beach after the rideTwo bikers enjoying a well-deserved sit down on the beach after the ride

"With Fabio, we knew he had cancer. Even in his late days he wanted to come to work, he said don’t feel sorry for him.

“With Bev, she kept it quiet. We didn’t even know until the end. She was such a strong woman and a very good hairdresser.

“Lots of clients supported me with the fundraising which is great. Fabio and Bev worked there for 15 to 20 years.

The Argus: A wide variety of bikes crossed the finish lineA wide variety of bikes crossed the finish line

“I’m 55 now, I’m no spring chicken. My cramps feel like they’re going to come back but I’m so happy to do the ride. It was a great experience and I will definitely try to do it again.

“I enjoyed it apart from the hills.”

Around 15,000 cyclists took on the challenge, organised by the British Heart Foundation, which involved pedalling 54 miles between Clapham Common to Madeira Drive in Brighton.

All participants received a medal for completing the route and got the chance to relax at a beach village along the seafront which had live music from local bands and musicians.