Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Landlord of cyclists’ pub takes on ‘Mt Everest ride’

Landlord of cyclists’ pub takes on ‘Mt Everest ride’

THE owner of a pub in Watlington is taking part in a charity cycle event and is encouraging his customers to do the same.

John Riddell, who opened the Spire & Spoke in Hill Road in July with his wife Katy, is encouraging all the cyclists he usually welcomes to the pub to sign up for the Maggie’s Everesting Cycle Challenge.

The event will take place on Watlington Hill on Sunday, June 6.

Mr Riddell will be taking part with 15 friends and colleagues, riding up and down the hill to reach a total of 8,848m, the height of Mount Everest.

They will be raising money for Maggie’s, a cancer charity based in the grounds of the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

Mr Riddell, 58, who was the landlord of the Fat Fox Inn in Shirburn Street for nine years before opening the Spire & Spoke, said: “When I was approached by the team at Maggie’s I thought it was a great cause.

“We all know someone who has lost a family member to cancer or who has suffered from it.

“It was good to have something to focus on during lockdown and which will hopefully mark the end of the pandemic.

“The team at the Spire & Spoke are delighted to be supporting Maggie’s. We are a cyclist-friendly pub, as our name suggests, and we welcome so many cyclists, especially when the sun is out.

“We are at the bottom of the hill so that will help with the logistics of the event.

“We will provide food and refreshments in the morning to support everyone who is taking part and I know Maggie’s will also be there to provide refreshments.”

The event is being organised by Iconic Cycling Events and will be supported by the pub and the Sprocket Science cycle repair shop in Watlington as well as Slime Cycleworks, which is also based in South Oxfordshire.

Mr Riddell said: “I’ve done lots of cycling and I’m trying to get as much training as I can under my belt before the challenge.

“I’m struggling at the moment because I’m running the business at the same time. We re-opened for outdoor hospitality on Monday last week and it was extremely busy. It is  good to be back but it has really been a challenge, too. I think this is the ninth set of different covid rules on how to serve clients that we had to follow, so we’ve been training our staff again on what they can do and what they can’t do until all the restrictions are lifted.”

Pip Dingle, centre fundraising manager at Maggie’s, said: “We had our first meeting to organise the event at the Spire & Spoke back in September.

“We had a chat with John, who happened to be in the pub, and he immediately decided to support the idea.

“He has been absolutely incredible at promoting the event with his customers and everyone in Watlington and we are really grateful to have his support.

“We can’t wait to see all the cyclists on Watlington Hill, getting through the repetitions and reaching their target. It’s all to raise funds for people with cancer and their families and friends. We’re very grateful to everyone who has already contributed.

“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, cancer almost seems to have been forgotten as treatment is often delayed.

“It is a tough time for people with cancer and their families, so this challenge feels more important than ever because of the circumstances. The money raised will help us to make sure Maggie’s can continue offering this kind of support.

“We’ve still got a few spaces, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in taking part.”

Mrs Dingle said the event was inspired by Watlington resident Sam Swanson, who completed an Everesting challenge in August.

She went up and down Watlington Hill 80 times and raised more than £10,000 for animal charity Medical Detection Dogs. 

Starting at the hill top, the route runs down to the Ridgeway bridlepath at the foot of the hill and back.

Participants can choose if they want to cycle a “full Everest”, involving about 80 repetitions, or a “half Everest”, which is about 40 repetitions.

Individual full riders will start at 1am and half riders will join them from 5am, closely followed by team riders who will be set off at regular intervals.

The road will be closed to traffic with managed access for residents.

You can register for the challenge at https://maggiesecc.eventbrite.com or email Pip Dingle at pip.dingle@maggiescentres.org

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