Baldock Cycle Challenge 2017 attracts almost 200 riders amid mighty community effort

PUBLISHED: 11:50 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:47 25 July 2017

The start of the Baldock Cycle Challenge on Sunday. Picture: Barbara Heathfield

The start of the Baldock Cycle Challenge on Sunday. Picture: Barbara Heathfield

Archant

Almost 200 cyclists took in the countryside around Baldock yesterday during the town’s Cycle Challenge – with participants as young as 10 and as old as 83.

All set to start at the Baldock Cycle Challenge on Sunday. Picture: Barbara HeathfieldAll set to start at the Baldock Cycle Challenge on Sunday. Picture: Barbara Heathfield

The 57-mile route was divided into a southern loop in the morning and a circle to the north in the afternoon, with both starting and finishing in Baldock’s High Street.

Baldock Events Forum chairman Jim McNally told the Comet: “I think we’ve done really well, with almost 200 cyclists – and we’ve had a great range of ages too.

“It was really great to see so many people out riding bikes in Baldock and enjoying the Hertfordshire countryside.

“The highlight of the day was the start of the first loop, with more than 100 riders all coming through onto the High Street – we did it in waves to avoid interfering with the normal traffic. The feedback from the riders has been excellent.

Baldock Cycle Challenge organisers Jim McNally and Richard Harbon. Picture: JP AsherBaldock Cycle Challenge organisers Jim McNally and Richard Harbon. Picture: JP Asher

“The Cycle Challenge has been going for a good few years now, and we believe it is now a firm fixture in the Baldock events programme.”

It was all hands to the pump to organise the day, and Jim paid tribute to the the superb community effort behind the success.

“Without Richard Harbon from North Herts Road Runners we would have been seriously compromised,” said Jim.

“Carrie Dunne and Paul Calver from the events forum, Ashley Hawkins from North Herts District Council, Dave Thomas and all the marshalls and other helpers – they’ve all been a great team. They pulled together and really came through.”

The 26.9-mile morning route saw riders heading down through Weston to Hall’s Green and then up through Rushden and Sandon to Therfield, before turning back to Baldock via Wallington.

The afternoon loop – slightly longer, at 30.7 miles – snaked north through Ashwell, Litlington, Bassingbourn and Guilden Morden to Wrestlingworth, before returning via Hinxworth, Ashwell and Caldecote.

Baldock’s Ray Parry, 83, was the oldest participant in the Cycle Challenge – taking part alongside his son Darryl and grandson Jake.

The former club cyclist said: “It was great. Jim McNally and his team put in a lot of good work to organise it and make it successful.

Baldock Cycle Challenge rider Ray Parry, right, with his son Darryl and grandson Jake. Ray, 83, was the oldest participant in the big cycle. Picture: Jim McNallyBaldock Cycle Challenge rider Ray Parry, right, with his son Darryl and grandson Jake. Ray, 83, was the oldest participant in the big cycle. Picture: Jim McNally

“I had a medical check-up recently and my doctor told me that cycling and swimming are examples of very good exercise for older people.

“If you’re in the saddle or the water, so it’s a good environment – you get the benefit without the risk of damaging your joints, as you’re not taking the weight on them so much.

“I’ve got a pretty good level of fitness so I wasn’t put off by the thought of riding the best part of 60 miles on this challenge.

“This event was enjoyed by people of virtually all ages and abilities – really great for everyone. A good town event for Baldock.”

The big cycle was sponsored by Paul’s Bikes, Sports Therapy 4U and Knights Sport Fitness. Darryl Shields of DTS Cycle Services was also on hand to help patch up any problems with the bikes, and Tesco provided water and other supplies for the marshals.

To find out more about Baldock community events, see facebook.com/baldockevents.

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