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Monday, 20 May 2019
ALMOST 500 people took part in the 13th annual On Your Bike charity cycle ride.
Families gathered on the playground at Sonning Common Primary School on Sunday morning before setting off on a signposted circuit of either six, 12 or 20 miles through the surrounding countryside.
Children wore helmets in all sorts of designs including monsters, unicorns, police officers and punky spikes and some pulled “wheelie” manoeuvres as they departed.
Younger children followed their parents in “tagalong” trailers and child seats and one participant wore roller skates while propelling herself forward using walking poles.
As they left the school off Grove Road, a public address system played songs including Bicycle Race by Queen and The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles.
The longest route went out to Nuffield via Stoke Row then returned through Ipsden, Check-
endon, Hook End and Kidmore End.
Marshals were posted around the course to ensure riders didn’t get lost and there were two drink and snack stations along the way.
When participants returned
they were given sweets and drinks to replenish their energy and there was also a café selling hot rolls, tea and coffee.
First to finish were On Your Bike regulars Vicky Mollison and her son Max, nine, of Lea Road, Sonning Common, who completed the six-mile course despite a mechanical problem.
Max said: “We were going to do 12 miles but my chain kept coming off. We managed to reattach it but it wouldn’t switch the gears down as we were going up a hill, so I had to do it in a high gear, which was really hard.
“I’m surprised we came first because we thought there were people in front of us.” Richard McKenzie-Black, of Woodlands Road, Sonning Common, finished second with his 10-year-old daughter Mya while his son Brooklyn, 15, completed the 20-mile circuit with a group of friends.
He said: “It’s a nice short ride and doesn’t attract too many people so it’s more relaxing than some other cycling events and we enjoy watching wildlife like all the newborn lambs.
“We’ve been doing it since the beginning and think it’s a lovely day out for a good cause.
“It brings people together and helps children to develop road awareness far more than just letting them ride on their own.
Bryony Henley, from Sonning Common, took part for the first time with her partner Tim Bicknell and children Ruby and Kimberley Ellery, eight and 10.
She said: “We would have done the 12-mile ride but we had a family occasion and needed to do a shorter one.
“It was great fun and the marshals did an amazing job so we’re very thankful that they gave up their time for everyone.
“We’d heard of On Your Bike and were interested in taking part but had always been too busy.
“I’m glad we’ve now done it and we’ll definitely do it again.” First to finish the 12-mile route were Pete and Antje Inness, from Sonning Common, and their
10-year-old son Robin, who attends the primary school.
Mrs Inness said: “It was a bit short and I think we should have done the longer one!
“We’ve been doing this since we took Robin around in a child seat, which must have been nine years ago, and now he is a very keen cyclist.
“It’s a fun day out and we’re always happy to support our son’s school.”
The proceeds from the event are yet to be counted but it is expected to have raised about £4,000.
The primary school, whose parent-teacher association organises the event, will receive half while the remainder will be shared between the Sonning Common First Responders and the village’s Fish Volunteer Centre.
Since On Your Bike was first held in 2007, it has raised more than £45,000 for a number of charities serving the village and South Oxfordshire.
The inaugural event was organised with just four months’ notice but proved so popular that it became an annual tradition. Founder Penny Snowden, who is still a member of the organising committee, said this year had been another success despite colder weather than usual.
There were 481 participants, about 15 more than last year.
She said: “We had more people signing up in advance, which is brilliant, and the playground was completely full even though it coincided with Mother’s Day and the clocks going forward.
“The spirit is always the same and people come back year after year to keep old friendships going.
“We’ve got a lot of regulars who aren’t necessarily from the school community and it brings in people of all ages from tots to teenagers.
“We’ve also got about 50 volunteers taking part, including 30 marshals and four first responders, and they do an amazing job.
“Two of our committee members are new and it’s great to see that people want to help ensure it carries on.
“Whereas the bulk of people used to do the short ride, it’s now pretty evenly split and we’re seeing children in years 5 and 6 doing 12 or even 20 miles.
“It’s encouraging given the need to get more people active and the fact that fewer people are cycling nationally. I don’t know of any events like this in the area as many cycle rides are competitive, which can put people off, whereas anyone feels like they can have a go at this.
“It gives them a good reason to get outside and ride and they don’t have to raise any sponsorship money although some choose to do so, which we’re very happy with.
“My children are no longer at the school but I’m going to stay involved for the foreseeable future as this is now very much a village event.
“I would also like to thank Tina Micaleff, who has been on the committee for at least four years and has been a real driving force in keeping it going.”
On Your Bike is sponsored by Sonning Common Health Centre, which helped to launch it to promote exercise among villagers, and AW Cycles, of Caversham, which had a stall offering repairs and tyre inflation in the playground.
It is also sponsored by Sonning Common Vauxhall, Reflex Spinal Health, Ella’s Kitchen, Peppard Building Supplies, Lift Creative Communication Design and Higgs Group, publishers of the Henley Standard.
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