More than 1,100 cyclists found themselves in the hot seat – literally – when they took part in this year’s Ride For Helen event.
On the hottest day of the year so far – with the thermometer in the shade touching 80 degrees – cyclists of all ages rode around Essex to raise funds for Helen Rollason Cancer Charity (HRCC).
Setting a blistering pace were those taking part in a 65-mile route, the longest of four routes on offer to those taking part.
Hot on their wheels were other competitors tackling the 35, 15 and six mile courses, the last of which attracted families looking to enjoy the summer sunshine and raise funds to support people living with cancer.
This was the third year the event – attended by BBC Essex presenter Sadie Nine and snooker celebrity Ali Carter – has been held and was the biggest yet, with organisers hoping to raise more than £40,000.
Several of the cyclists had themselves been diagnosed with cancer and received support from HRCC, which is based in Hatfield Peverel and was set up in memory of the late BBC sports presenter Helen Rollason.
Among them was Debbie Leech, who completed the six mile course with members of her family and friends; two of her Pedal Pushers team enjoyed it so much they went round again!
Debbie, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, said she was keen to raise money for HRCC after receiving support from the charity. “Rochelle House, the HRCC Centre at Chelmsford, has been brilliant for me,” she said. “The people there are amazing and as soon as I go through the door I feel calm.”
Teenager Lucy Wright, from Nounsley, was one of a number of cyclists who rode further than ever before, completing the 65 mile course with her dad Stephen.
“My biggest ride before today was 25 miles so this is the longest I have ridden by a long way. It was okay at the start but the last 25 miles were tough,” she admitted.
For Nic Footer, who travelled from Ipswich, the Ride for Helen was an event he is hoping to emulate in the future, possibly by completing a sky dive for the charity.
“We love any kind of challenge,” said Nic, accompanied by his wife Donna.
HRCC Fundraising Manager Kate Alden: “The event was a huge success and we’d like to thank the cyclists of Essex, young and old, fit and not so athletic, for taking part and raising thousands of pounds to help people living with cancer. And an extra huge thank you to all those kind-hearted volunteers and marshals who helped to make the event possible and of course to Ian Twinley, for allowing us, once again, to use The Crix – a perfect venue for the start and finish.”
Liz Baker, Marketing Manager at Wilkin and Sons – one of the event sponsors – added: “We are thrilled that this year’s Ride for Helen had such a large turn out and that so many people enjoyed themselves whilst raising money for such a good cause. We are very proud to be associated with such a great event.”
Essex Audi provided support vehicles that made their way around each of the routes and recovered two mechanical breakdowns but thankfully no spills. Ian Twinley, Chairman of Essex Audi Group, said “the staff are delighted to be part of the event not just with the support vehicles but with many of them doing the ride to help raise funds. Sadly we all know someone that has been affected by Cancer and this event is a great way for the local community to show their support, so congratulations to the Helen Rollason fundraising team and all of the volunteers on another fantastic event”.