Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is holding its 6th annual Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday 15 May and is hoping that the public will come out in support of the 600 cyclists taking part.
The event that is not a race, involves a challenging 54-mile cycle ride, which starts at Watchet Harbour in the north and ends at West Bay in the south, following a wonderfully scenic route through the beautiful Somerset and Dorset countryside. A staggered start will see the stronger cyclists set off first at 11am with the less experienced riders departing at 11.15am. A shorter 11-mile route starts at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton at 2pm and also finishes at West Bay.
Last year’s event saw people of all ages and abilities take part, raising over £64,000 for the lifesaving charity. With only 600 places available, it was no surprise that the event was sold out within three days of online registration being open.
This ever-popular event is renowned for being an emotional and inspiring day out for everyone involved. That’s no surprise given the fact that the cyclists consist of patients who have experienced the work of the air ambulance first-hand and those who take part in memory of a loved one. Others get involved as part of a team or simply want to challenge themselves and support the charity in return.
Darren Avery is taking part in the event for the very first time. “As a cyclist who heads out into the far reaches of the countryside, I’m only too aware that either I or my companions might one day need the services of the air ambulance. A friend of mine was airlifted off the Mendip Hills after a mountain-bike accident and badly injured his leg. I very much appreciate the knowledge that the air ambulance is there if we ever need their help. It’s an honour for me to be able to ride and support them at the same time.”
Dave Maynard is taking part for the fourth year. He is cycling in memory of his 25-year-old son Anthony who lost his life after a road traffic incident. Anthony was on a training ride when he was hit by a van back in 2008. “This year is extra special as my wife Sue is also taking part. I think that’s amazing, a mother who loses her son whilst cycling decides to get on a bike herself and ride in his memory. If that’s not courage, then what is?”
Teams o’ Tumblers are once again coming out in force for their third year running. Last year, 36 members took part and raised a staggering £19,601.90.
Even the charity’s chief executive officer, Bill Sivewright and medical lead Dr Phil Hyde have set themselves challenges this year.
Dr Phil Hyde has been working with the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance for over three years. Actively involved in pre-hospital care since 2003, Phil also works at Southampton Children’s Hospital as an intensive care consultant. Wanting to play their part, Phil and his wife Hannah, together with their children George (3) and Emily (5), will cycle the 11-mile route on a tandem bike with a tag-along and a front seat.
Bill Sivewright is usually seen behind the scenes helping to organise the event on the day. Last year he rode to support a friend but this year he is taking part in support of the Charity.
“After coming up with the idea of running the event five years ago, I trailed the route a number of times but for the first few years I was far too heavily involved with the admin to ride on the day. Last year I rode to support Clive Dickin, national director of the Association of Air Ambulances; however this year I’m doing it for the charity.
“It’s a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere is incredible. I’m sure it will be an extremely emotional day all round and the aches and pains will definitely be worthwhile. The event seems to get better year on year and that is mainly due to the wonderful team of volunteers, members of the public and local businesses who help us with marshalling and keeping the cyclists safe.
“Our thanks go to the event sponsors and the various pit-stop locations along the route. Without their help and support, we simply could not put on such a large scale event.
“Finally, a very big thank you to all the cyclists taking part who are encouraging their friends and family to sponsor them. Let’s hope the weather stays fine and we raise as much as possible and make this the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet!”
Supporters will be able to encourage the Coast to Coast cyclists at the starting point along the route or at the finishing line celebrations at East Beach Car Park in West Bay.
As well as individual sponsorship of the cyclists, the Charity has set up two other ways in which donations can be made in support of the event. These can be made online by visiting: www.dsairambulance.org.uk or by mobile phone by texting: COAS16 £5 to 70070