The Ride 2 Bury cycilists say they were bowled over by the rapturous welcome they got at the end of their marathon charity ride.
Pushing through the pain barrier, 20 Pompey fans completed their 300-mile charity ride to Bury FC at lunctime on Saturday and were greeted with a celebratory roar.
After four days of pedalling, the fundraisers arrived on schedule to escort the Pompey team coach into Gigg Lane ahead of the Blues’ final away match of the season.
It had been a tough slog for the cyclists since setting off from Fratton Park on Wednesday.
But all the aching muscles were worth it as the team raised well over £20,000 towards good causes, including charities that supported four-year-old Jack Robinson, who recently died after suffering from an inoperable brain tumour.
The ride was originally set up to help Jack’s family.
Tom Dearie, 41, of Domum Road, Copnor, said the fans’ welcome had taken everybody by surprise.
‘It was insane, to be honest,’ he said. ‘We were not expecting there to be so many. There were a couple of hundred people waiting for us. It was quite special.’
The journey took the cyclists from Portsmouth to Oxford, on to Birmingham, then Knutsford in Cheshire and they finished in the old Lancashire town of Bury.
Tom, who works for Portsmouth City Council, said Friday was the most gruelling.
‘It was horrific with torrential rain,’ he said.
‘We had that for five hours and it was just awful.
‘We knew it was going to be our last full day, though.’
But he added: ‘We are actually in pretty good condition at the moment. Everybody has aching muscles and is sore all over, but the training we did beforehand definitely paid off. There were lots of happy and smiling faces.’
The cyclists then took their seats to watch Pompey gain a thrilling 4-4 draw.
Before the match, a minute’s applause was held for supporters of both clubs who had died recently, with Jack getting a special mention at the end.
Money raised from the bike ride will be split between Naomi House Children’s Hospice, the hospital ward in Southampton that cared for Jack, a brain cancer research charity and community shares in Pompey.
Tom added: ‘We will hopefully finish on about £23,000 which, considering our target was £10,000, is insane.’
The fundraisers have vowed to repeat the cycle challenge next year on Pompey’s last away game and hope to make it an annual event.