THE eighth annual On Your Bike event raised more than £3,000 for charity.
About 520 cyclists of all ages took part in Sunday’s ride, which started and finished at Sonning Common Primary School.
The proceeds will be shared between the school, the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed and the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust.
Participants rode routes of 5.5 miles, 12 miles or 20 miles and were guided around the course by marshals while toddlers and younger children rode supervised laps in the school playground.
The shortest route ran via Wyfold Wood and Gallowstree Common while the longest went to Nuffield and returned via Ipsden.
Eddie Bayfield, six, and his father Joe, from Stoke Row, were first to return. They completed the 5.5-mile course in about 35 minutes. It was the second year running they have taken part. Mr Bayfield said: “It was quite easy — it was a little bit windy but luckily the rain held off and the marshals did a good job of getting us round safely. We’re definitely going to do it again next year and will hopefully be doing a longer route.”
Guy and Kirsty Johnson, from Kidmore End, completed the short course in about 45 minutes with their children Ollie, six, and Finn, four.
Mrs Johnson said: “It was great fun and the furthest Ollie has ever been. He was really looking forward to coming out and doing a big ride.”
Duncan Mollison and sons Max, four, and William, five, of Lea Road, Sonning Common, finished the 5.5-mile course in 50 minutes.
Mr Mollison said: “This was our first time. We only came to do the toddler event but ended up taking the children on the short ride. It was really enjoyable and we’ll definitely be doing it again.” Organiser Penny Snowden said fewer people took part this year because the regular On Your Feet treasure hunt was not held.
She said she hoped to launch a new walking challenge for Sonning Common that would exist independently of On Your Bike.
She said: “This is the only event where the whole community comes together and I think it has become part of the village’s DNA. It’s a lovely thing to have created because it has taken on a life of its own and it’s something people automatically enter.
“It’s hard work but it’s utterly uplifting to see all those smiling faces heading off year after year. However, we’re relying on our long-standing volunteers to keep it going. If we could establish the momentum for a new team of volunteers we should be able to do a walking event as well.
“This is a village that has health and fitness very much at its core because the GP surgery is so active in promoting it. We ran On Your Feet for a couple of years but I don’t think it got the numbers it deserved because a lot of people were riding instead.
“I think the idea of families being able to walk or even run together on a given day is a really nice one. It’s still at a very embryonic stage but if I could find a team of volunteers to run it that would make a big difference.”
On Your Bike is organised in partnership with Sonning Common Health Centre and has now raised about £28,000 for charity since it was launched in 2007.
It is sponsored by by Higgs Group, publishers of the Henley Standard, Beville estate agents, AW Cycles of Caversham, technology firm Halarose of Woodcote, butchers Jennings of Caversham, baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen of Rotherfield Greys, the Bux and Oxon 4x4 Response Group, Sol-Tec of Reading, Phoenix Land Rover Club and Spar.
Reflex Chiropractic of Caversham, which is owned by Andy and Laura Green of Kidmore End, sponsored it for the first time this year.The couple’s children, Harrison, eight, Oskar, five, and Kaspar, seven, took part in the toddler event and hope to ride the short course next year.
Mr Green said: “We really care about health and this is a fantastic family exercise event so we wanted to support it. I was worried that it might be affected by the weather but the turnout has been fantastic.”
To see more photographs from Sunday’s event, visit www.henleystandard.co.uk