An inter-valley 125 express hit the Peak District on Sunday, July 28, and raised thousands of pounds for Ashgate Hospice.
But it wasn’t a diesel-powered loco that sped its way across the county, it was a train of one-hundred-and-twenty-five huge-hearted cyclists who rolled out for the Derbyshire Times and Pelican Cycles’ 50 mile and 10 mile Flagg Challenge.
Trapped between torrential thunder storms on Saturday and Sunday, bee stings, punctures and mechanical breakdowns - the sun still shone on the valiant sponsored cyclists as they overcame two of the region’s steepest climbs at Sheldon and Birchover and ploughed over the area’s relentless rises.
DT reporter and Flagg Challenge cyclist Jon Cooper said: “The sheer number of riders this year absolutely blew the organisers away.
“So many novice riders embraced the spirit of the event and overcame a real test to complete this tough event in between numerous punctures and mechanicals on gravel-strewn roads left gritty by recent downpours.
“Riders shared their personal reasons for taking on the challenge in honour of loved ones - no doubt very much in their thoughts with every wheel they turned.”
One such cyclist James Farndon told how his mother, who is suffering with incurable cancer, is being cared for by the hospice and he wanted the opportunity to say thank you to the charity.
Others stepped into the breach for friends who wanted to do the ride but were too poorly and those who had the will but were injured still turned up to make donations instead.
ITV soap stars Rik Makarem and James Shelton brought glamour to the day’s proceedings as they launched the ride and took on the challenge.
While others had travelled from all over the country to take on the Flagg Challenge’s rolling and steep hills. And a share of riders were so inspired by cyclist 61 year-old Shay Boyle, who was featured in the DT after bravely doing last year’s ride in his courds, that they decided to take on the 10miler with vigour and enthusiasm.
DT sports reporter Matt Brookes completed the 10 mile challenge and the Matlock Mercury’s Dan Hobson also completed the 50 mile challenge and boosted hospice funds.
DT reporter Jon Cooper added: “Thank you so much to all the organisers, volunteers, Pelican, Rik and Jamie, the courageous riders, contributors and supporters who helped raise so much money for Ashgate Hospice which is such an incredibly worthy, local cause.”
This year’s Flagg Challenge has also been done as part of the Derbyshire Times’ on-going 25 in 25 appeal to raise £25,000 for the hospice in its 25th anniversary year. For a forthcoming video of the event and individual rider pictures keep posted to the Derbyshire Times’ website www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk.
Anyone with forthcoming Ashgate Hospice fundraising events can do them under the DT’s 25in25 Appeal and are urged to contact reporter Jon Cooper on (01246) 504524 or firstname.lastname@example.org for media publicity and support.