Thursday, 23 November 2017

Charity cyclists in seventh heaven

A RECORD 747 people took part in the seventh annual On Your Bike challenge.

A RECORD 747 people took part in the seventh annual On Your Bike challenge.

The cycle rides and treasure hunts, which took place on Sunday morning, raised almost £5,000. The proceeds will be shared between Sonning Common Primary School and the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

On Your Bike, which is sponsored by the Henley Standard, has now raised about £25,000 for charity since it was launched in 2007.Participants set off on 5.5-mile, 12-mile or 20-mile rides while toddlers rode supervised circuits of the school playground.

The shortest route ran through Wyfold Wood and Gallowstree Common before returning to the school and the 12-mile circuit passed through Checkendon and Stoke Row in a figure-of-eight. The 20-mile ride went as far as Nuffield, returning via Ipsden and Braziers Park.

There was also a treasure hunt called On Your Feet, which was introduced to the event last year. It offered routes of one mile or three.

More than 250 people who turned up registered on the day, despite the higher cost.

The first to return were Dan Jordan, 13, from Peppard, and Ben Iddon, 13, from Caversham Heights, who both rode the 5.5-mile route. Oscar Morton and Luca Babb rode 5.5 miles on unicycles. The pair live opposite each other in Gallowstree Common. Oscar, 17, has been learning for three years and Luca, 13, was inspired to join him a year ago.

Oscar, who goes to The Henley College, said: “I’ve done a few longer rides before but neither of us has taken part in an organised race with other people. We’ve had a lot of attention — everyone congratulates you and comments on how well you’re doing, which is really lovely.”

Chiltern Edge School pupil Luca said: “We’ve both been practising for a while now and we wanted a challenge to keep us going.”

Steve and Emma Alvey, of Shiplake Bottom, rode 5.5 miles with daughters Charlotte, five, and Louisa, six.

Mr Alvey said: “It was really nice and just the right distance for us. This is the second time we’ve taken part. It’s a brilliant community event with a very friendly feel and it raises money for a good cause.”

McLean and Alicia Bennett won the three-mile treasure hunt. They were given organic vegetable boxes from Riverford Farm in Devon and chocolates. The winners of the shorter hunt were Sue Catt and Nicki Hybert, who won afternoon tea at Daisy’s Coffee Shop at the Herb Farm in Sonning Common.

Penny Snowden, a member of the organising committee, said: “Today has been absolutely marvellous — it has exceeded all our expectations. It has been helped by the weather because you’re less likely to get people coming and registering on the day if it’s pouring with rain.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed — I think we’ve run out of numbers and registration forms and that’s great news for us. This has become a fixture on the Sonning Common calendar, not just a school event. People who left the school long ago come back to cycle with us, while others are just keen cyclists or they love the countryside.

“We never thought it would take off to this extent and certainly didn’t think we’d be here seven years later and still growing year on year.”

Dr Andrew Burnett, from Sonning Common Health Centre, who planned the routes for the first On Your Bike and took part in Sunday’s ride, said: “The biggest benefit of this is that it gives people the confidence to go out and use the countryside. It encourages families to go out and exercise together.

“If you look in the lanes of South Oxfordshire after this event there are noticeably more families out cycling because of the ‘pester power’ of the children.”

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