Record number of riders in Pilgrims Cycle Challenge
One thousand cyclists took to the roads of east Kent in warm sunshine on Sunday for a record breaking turnout in the Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge.
It’s the fourth time the ride has been held and offered cyclists the choice of a two 45 mile routes via Thanet and Canterbury or Ashford and Canterbury or a 75 mile route taking in all three hospices in Canterbury, Ashford and Thanet.
The event has established itself as one of the county’s biggest charity rides and it’s hoped the money raised this time will beat last year’s total of £83,000 for the hospices. The result will be announced in the autumn once people have sent in their sponsor money.
Pilgrims Regional Fundraising Manager, Deborah Kellond, who led the organisation of the event and rode the full route herself, said: “We were delighted and overwhelmed with the response. 800 people had pre-registered with 200 more signing up on the day – and no doubt the lovely weather was a deciding factor.
“It was inspiring to see so many cyclists taking part in memory of a loved one and our memory boards were overflowing with messages at each of the hospices. Many of those people had spent weeks preparing for the ride and for many of those less-experienced cyclists completing 45 miles was a real achievement.
“The 75 mile route was aimed at more serious cyclists and there were plenty of them – some coming from London and out of county for the occasion which demonstrates just how the ride has grown and become a firm fixture on the cycling calendar.
“Being able to stop at the hospices for rest and refreshment also gave everyone a flavour of what Pilgrims Hospices is about. It is really important that our participants understand why this ride is different from other sportive-type events and why we like to connect our hospices in this way.
“We couldn’t have staged the ride without the unstinting help of our volunteers, staff and sponsors before, during and after the event. Their help means that all of the money raised can go back towards Pilgrims patient care without the need to pay for event organisers.”
Pilgrims Chief Executive Steve Auty was also among the 75 mile riders. He said: “It was the best ride so far and I would like to thank everyone who not only took part but who gave of their time to make the challenge such a success. The atmosphere and feedback have been terrific so we look forward to doing it all again next year.”
Local cycle shops kindly provided Dr Bike repair services SP Cycles at Thanet Hospices, Herberts of Whitstable at Canterbury, Spinal Cycles at Ashford Hospice. Biketart cycles at Barham, one of the challenge’s sponsors, not only offered repairs but provided full refreshment facilities at their premises en route. A range of raffle prizes were also provided by other cycle businesses, such as Cycles UK, The Hub, SW Cycle repairs and Lock’s of Sandwich.
Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge is generously supported by Barretts of Canterbury, Noel Tatt, London Array, Biketart, MPG Properties and Kent Construction Focus Group. Their contribution enabled the event’s costs to be defrayed considerably.
Meanwhile, we can tell you that next year’s ride will be held on Sunday 4 May 2014. Plenty of time to get in training!
We’ll add more photos from the event on to Flickr soon – look out for them!