June 9th, 2017

The Fireflies Tour 2017 launched today with the Grand Départ as the riders embarked on the first leg of a 1000+km route across the Alps, cycling over eighteen mountains in just eight days to raise money for Bloodwise, a leading charity which funds research into the treatment of leukemia and cancers of the blood. Now in its 17th year, the annual charity ride challenges cyclists to take on the most grueling climbs of the great Tour de France, as they make the journey from Lake Geneva to the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Following the Mill cyclists of past Fireflies Tours, we will have two riders taking on the challenge in aid of beating Blood Cancer: Rani Melendez, Managing Director at The Mill in LA and Fireflies West veteran; and Justin Stiebel, Producer at The Mill in London. Ralph Pope, Head of Services, Beam at The Mill in London and Photographer, will be documenting the ride all along the way.

You can support this important cause by helping the riders raise funds:

Donate to Rani's ride here.

Donate to Justin's ride here.

Meet first time Fireflies rider Justin Stiebel:


Tell us about yourself.

I’m 28 years old, wise for my years. I normally wear a toga in private and function on the same timezone as Nepal.

How did you get involved with the Fireflies and what does the charity ride mean to you?

I had no choice. They saw me ride and demanded I join. I was reluctant to give up full contact origami but it seems cycling is now my thing. Of course, there is also no choice when you have the responsibility of so many sponsors who have donated barrels of cash to the cause. It doesn’t matter how many blisters you have on your butt, the only option is to finish well. So this means a lot - like getting a window seat on the bus. The bottom line is that Cancer sucks and everything which helps to defeat any type of it, is a worthy cause.

Why did you take the challenge to ride this year?

There has not been any other year. I’ve been riding for only a year so this is the first. I hope the trend will continue.

How did you get into cycling and what’s your experience with riding?

I was plumper than I am now. Something HAD to happen. At first, I looked lumpy in lycra. Now I’m in magnificent shape and recently trained 503km in one week. So, I’m getting better all the time but it’s all a big and exciting learning curve for me.

How did you train and prepare for the ride?

Ride. Ride. Ride. Recover. Recover. Recover. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

What are you bringing with you and what’s in your cycling kit?

I am bringing my imported anti bum-blister crème made from yak milk. And a portable Norton Winthrop #223 fridge to keep it cool.

Since this is your first ride on the Fireflies Tour, what advice have you received from others?

They say stuff like: "You will love escargot!" or "Don't fall off the bike at 65mph. It could hurt." All sage advice I intend to follow.

What are you most looking forward to?

The beer at the finish! And that we all get there in one piece. And making my target of GBP3,000 as a donation to Bloodwise.

We'll be sharing updates from the tour along the way on @Millchannel on Instagram: