Tuesday, 22 January 2019

‘ET’ joins charity bike ride

‘ET’ joins charity bike ride

ABOUT 75 cyclists — plus “ET” — completed a charity mountain bike challenge in the countryside around Henley on Saturday.

The seventh annual PIP Mountain Bike Challenge started and finished at Lovibonds Brewery in Market Place and passed through Lambridge Woods, Nettlebed, Maidensgrove and the Warburg Nature Reserve.

Some riders chose to ride Eighties BMX bikes and Choppers, which made the hilly and muddy course even more challenging.

The riders had agreed to raise at least £350 each for Pursuing Independent Paths, a charity which supports adults with learning disabilities. So far, they have raised more than £27,000 but the final total is expected to be at least £45,000.

The riders gathered at the brewery for refreshments, including Lovibonds beers, before a safety briefing from organiser Bill Feeney, who lives in Queen Street and is a director of the charity.

He warned riders that they would to have get off their bikes and push them on some sections of the course because of the muddy conditions caused by the rain during Friday night.

Most riders took between two and three hours to complete the course.

Mr Feeney usually takes part but was unable to this year after breaking his shoulder and collar bone while training for the challenge.

Henley Mayor Glen Lambert, who completed the challenge for the first time last year, took his place and Mr Feeney’s wife Laura signed up on the day despite not being a mountain biker.

“It was rather frustrating not being able to take part but it was satisfying to know people were taking part for me,” said Mr Feeney.

“Laura is not much of a biker but she stepped in as she felt there should always be a Feeney taking part.

“She found it difficult but she completed it as part of the last group back. I am incredibly proud of her and grateful to her for doing it.” Councillor Lambert said he found the ride tougher than last year as he had not ridden a bike since then.

He said: “Last year I promised Bill I would do it again if I raised more than £500 and I managed to raise £760 but back then I didn’t know I was going to be Mayor.

“When it came around again I had to say sorry, I would not have time because of mayoral stuff.

“But when I found out Bill had hurt himself I realised there was going to be a vacancy and he had done a lot of fund-raising, so I made myself available to take part. It’s a great community event which helps bring new people into the town from London, where the charity is based.”

Victoria Morgan, from Henley, wore a huge wig and a colourful Seventies dress and rode a 1978 brown Raleigh Shopper.

Matt Richardson, of Deanfield Avenue, Henley, was on a 1975 Mk II Raleigh Chopper and dtessed like a Seventies racing cyclist.

Several riders were dressed as characters from ET and rode BMX bikes. They included Lovibonds owner Jeff Rosenmeier, 47, Jack Meek, from Henley, and Darryl Grant, 49, from Harpsden.

Mr Grant was dressed like Elliot, the boy in the 1982 sci-fi blockbuster who befriends an extraterrestrial, and carried an ET toy in his bicycle’s basket.

Mr Rosenmeier, who rode a Skyway BMX which is more than 35 years old, said: “Some of us ride our mountain bikes around this area every week, so this route is not necessarily a big challenge.

“Each year we try to make it a little bit more interesting, which always helps with the fund-raising. A couple years ago I did it on a tandem, which was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

“We made it around the course safely and had a lot of laughs along the way and together have raised over £1,500 so far.”

Mr Feeney thanked all the riders and the 50-plus route marshals as well as Athlete Service, Gabriel Machin butchers, Gorvett & Stone, Waitrose and the Wine Rack for supporting the event.

He said: “Everyone has been extremely co-operative and helped to make it a huge success. A lot of people came together to make it a great community event.”

Badgemore Primary School ran a partner event in its grounds in Hop Gardens. Pupils were able to complete laps of a course on their bikes and scooters.

Mr Feeney, a governor at the school, which his daughter Poppy, nine, attends, said: “It is great to see Badgemore pupils being active and we’re grateful for the money they raised.

“Badgemore and PIP have a lot in common, both being small grassroots organisations which focus on individual support and education.”

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