Cyclists en route to £1m Paris challenge

Cyclists are aiming to hit the whopping £1m mark with an annual fund-raising 400-mile bike ride.

Almost 200 cyclists took part in last month's Paris to Hayling Charity Cycle Ride, the 21st such event, and they raised an impressive 80,000 for charity.

Over 21 years that brings the grand total raised to more than 900,000 and the challenge is now on for next year's event in July to be the 1m ride.

Paul Fisher, the chairman of the event who has taken part in every single ride, said: 'It has become what I had dreamed it might become. You get a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure out of that.

'Reaching the 1m mark will be quite a milestone. It's not bad for a little local event organised by volunteers.'

Now Mr Fisher, also the chairman of the Hayling Island Businessmen's Club, is encouraging as many people as possible to take part in next year's ride.

He said: 'We have people from all over the world, all shapes and sizes and levels of fitness. It's something that can appeal to all. If you just go on our practice rides, which start in March, by July you are fine.

'It's great fun. It's really quite a crack and very sociable. We cycle on little roads completely away from it all and it's absolutely beautiful.'

Cyclists – such as those pictured here taking a scenic time-out between Paris and Rouen on the fourth day of the journey – ride 225 miles over three-and-a-half days, or 400 miles over six days, and each raises at least 150 for the charity of their choice.

The ride involves crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre, then cycling to Evereux, Chartres, Paris, Rouen and Dieppe, before getting the ferry back to Hayling.

The charity ride first began in 1986 when Peter McQuade, now its president, cycled solo from Paris to Hayling Island.

He intended to raise some money for cot death research, following the death of the baby daughter of two close friends.

He had no great cycling experience but, as the trip turned out to be easier than he expected, he persuaded another 17 cyclists, including Mr Fisher, to join him the following year.

The ride has continued to grow over the years.