SCORES of cyclists are set to make this year’s Paris to Hayling charity bike ride the best yet.
The event is in its 30th year and its 250 riders are determined to make it the most special as they hope to break the £1.5m mark.
The five-day ride, which covers 400 miles, has attracted more than 3,000 cyclists since it began in 1986 and organisers claim that it is not only the oldest multi-day charity cycling event in the country but possibly the world.
The team met up last night to swap tips in preparation for this year’s ride, which sets off from Portsmouth on Sunday.
For founder and chairman Peter McQuade the ride will be a moment in history as he has decided to step down.
Mr McQuade, from Hayling Island, started the event to raise money for a cot death charity after his friends lost one of their twin baby daughters.
He said: ‘We do raise a lot of money but we do that by riding through the countryside and having fun so people don’t think about the pain.’
Riders range from 14 yearsold up to 79 and they can raise money for any charity – with more than 500 charities benefiting so far.
Paul Clutterbuck, from Emsworth, started taking part to raise money for children’s medical services charity Operation Smile, which provides cleft palate surgery, after his grandson Joshua Grinsted was born with a cleft lip and palate.
The 65-year-old said: ‘I wanted to do something meaningful.
We do raise a lot of money but we do that by riding through the countryside and having fun so people don’t think about the pain.Peter McQuade, from Hayling Island
‘I started to cycle with the target of £150, which would help one child, now 10 years later I have helped 212 children by raising £32,000.’
Another ride stalwart is Fred Dyer, from Hayling Island, who has been taking part for 25 years.
For him it is a family affair as his late wife Judy, a nurse, used to pitch in and provide medical support. When she died in 2001, he encouraged his five children to take part and three of them cycled and two volunteered, raising thousands of pounds for cancer research.
The 69-year-old said: ‘This ride is the big one.’
For more go to hayling-cycle-ride.org.uk.