Cycle challenge was the ‘biggest’ yet

Joseph Bulmer

Nearly 400 riders take part in this year’s Coast to Coast challenge

HUNDREDS of cyclists took part in the “biggest ever” Coast-to-Coast Challenge yesterday (Sunday).

Nearly 400 took on the annual fund-raising endurance event – a gruelling 70 or 100-mile circular route starting and finishing at Bideford’s Victoria Park.

The annual fund-raiser, which started in 1999 with just four riders, has steadily grown over the years and has raised thousands of pounds for North Devon Hospice.

Last year, some 350 riders raised �30,000 riding from the Barbican in Plymouth to Barnstaple, and this year organisers hope to go one better.

Simon Paddon, part of a six-strong organising team, said: “Last year we were gobsmacked by what was raised. With even more riders taking part this year, we hope to beat that record, and that will make a real difference to the people cared for by North Devon Hospice.

“From what started out as a small group of mates doing a charity ride, this has grown into something we didn’t dare believe was possible,” he said.

“To see 400 cyclists congregating at the start line was very special, and despite the slightly iffy weather forecast, they all had a great day and enjoyed the ride.

“We chose to do a circular route for the first time this year, and I think it’s proved popular because there is less travelling for the riders. It has been no less challenging with some really tough climbs throughout the day, but when you’re pumping the pedals through such beautiful Devon scenery, it somehow makes your legs hurt that little bit less.”

Emma Lowe, from the hospice’s fund-raising team said the event brought together cyclists from all over Devon and beyond.

“Every year, the Coast-to-Coast Challenge just gets better and better,” she said.

“The team works hard to find interesting and beautiful routes, and they tackle the logistical issues fantastically well.

“There is also a lot of support from people behind the scenes, and we would like to thank everyone who has had a hand in making today so successful.”

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