Great homecoming for saddle-sore cyclists

Participants in the 2015 Hayling to Paris cycle ride
Participants in the 2015 Hayling to Paris cycle ride
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  • Paris to Hayling cycle ride in 30th year
  • Cyclists have raised £1.5m for charity
  • Founder Peter McQuade stepping down from organising
  • Final ride hailed a huge success
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CYCLISTS have comfortably pedalled their way to £1.5m worth of fundraising.

The Paris to Hayling riders arrived home on Sunday in the knowledge that their gruelling ride across France enabled the organisation to reach its target in its 30th year.

Puncture problems for Rick Gibbs, with Pauline Gibbs and Deirdre Howells

Puncture problems for Rick Gibbs, with Pauline Gibbs and Deirdre Howells

A crowd awaited the 250 cyclists as they crossed Hayling Bridge, having ridden 400 miles in five days.

The cycle also marked the final event with founder Peter McQuade at the helm.

Mr McQuade has now stepped down from organising it and said his last ride in charge was unforgettable.

The 60-year-old software company vice-president said: ‘The highlights for me were arriving in the splendid park at Versailles on Tuesday, and a stop on Wednesday in the village of Muids where the proprietor of the Bar De La Poste welcomed us with bunting and an accordion player.

‘Some riders lingered there quite a while singing and dancing – as well as enjoying some local cider – before the final run into Rouen.’

But, Mr McQuade added, ‘The most important thing of all is that we believe that this year, through a combination of pledges and a small profit on rider entries, we will comfortably exceed £1.5m since the ride started in 1986.’

Mr McQuade started the event to raise money for a cot death charity after his friends lost one of their twin baby daughters.

More than 3,000 riders have taken part since it began. The ride prides itself on the fact that cyclists can raise money for whichever charity they choose. And there were a few surprises on last week’s ride.

On Thursday a piper turned up in Le Havre while the group were having lunch.

Mr McQuade said: ‘We hadn’t booked him and neither had the restaurant. He just turned up to play.

‘The bizarre thing was that he had done the same thing last time we were there, seven years ago.

‘And at our traditional awards ceremony on the return ferry, I found my committee unanimously nominating a nonexistent rider for The Meryl Brown Trophy.

‘I announced the winner only to find when deputy chairman Pete Alloway appeared on stage, it was a hoax and that I was the real winner.’