Europe-wide cycling challenge raises £20,000 for Northampton Hope Centre

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Twenty-eight amateur cyclists raised thousands of pounds for Northampton Hope Centre in an epic cycling adventure.

The challenge, which took place across the UK and Europe, was organised by Pidy UK and is now in its third consecutive year.

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The route, which started at the University of Northampton with an enthusiastic send-off to music, laughter and general high spirits, took in the sights, sounds and ‘hills’ of Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex over the first two days.

An overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland then saw the group of intrepid cyclists leave the undulations of the UK behind to ride the stunning cycle paths that crisscross the Netherlands.

The final day of the trip took the team into Belgium, to the cobbled streets of Bruges for a quick stop and refuel before a final push on to the WWI battlefields and memorials of the Passchendaele and Tyne Cot and the finish in the shadow of the Menin Gate, Ypres - 270 miles and four days after leaving Northampton.

Blessed by excellent weather conditions, the team were in good spirits as they arrived in Belgium, despite overcoming the mental and physical challenge of such an event, not to mention numerous punctures and the odd road-side repair.

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With the funds raised from Ride 4 Hope 2016 still being collected, the total is yet to be announced, but it is expected to be well above £20,000, a record for the event.

Robert Whittle, general manager of Pidy UK and part of the team of cyclists, said: "Ride 4 Hope 2016 was a truly fantastic experience and a great way to raise money to support the exceptional work done by the Northampton Hope Centre.

"This year we had more riders than we have ever had before and I am pleased to say that each and every one of them did themselves proud by completing this challenge. It’s no small ask to cover this sort of distance in the saddle, especially as we are all amateur.

"We’ve already started to plan the 2017 event, at which we’re hoping to attract 50 riders to join us.”

Hope Centre Chairman and fellow cyclist, Adrian Pryce, said: “We are truly humbled by the incredible support of the riders who joined us on the trip.

"The Hope Centre relies entirely on donations such as this to provide a range of services which address poverty, homelessness and disadvantage in Northampton. All 28 riders did incredibly well to achieve such an accomplishment.

"We are delighted with the support of Pidy UK who continue to help organise the event. We were also delighted that Ypres deputy mayor, Mr Joseph Verschoore and Northampton representatives, Councillor Tony Ansell and Lord Lieutenant David Laing and his wife Mary, were able to join us for the civic reception in Ypres and Menin Gate memorial ceremony on the final day," he added.

This year’s event was supported by Action Express, who kindly provided a van to carry clothes, water and food during the trip and a lorry to return the bikes to the UK, Brackmills Industrial Estate for providing the support drivers, Radnor Hills for the water, T&J Fine Foods for the energy drinks, Harvest Fine Foods for the flapjacks and water, Northampton College for flapjacks and Brioche Pasquier for the sweet baked products.

The planning for Ride 4 Hope 2017 is well underway.

With a significant route change, the 2017 trip will cover three days, taking in a route from Northampton to Dover, before crossing onto France and cycling from Calais to the finish in Ypres. Ride 4 Hope 2017 will take place from July 6-9, 2017.

For more information on the trip or to sign up, email robertw@pidy.com, call 01607 705666 or visit www.pidyuk.com.

For more information on the Northampton Hope Centre or to find out other ways in which you are able to support the dedicated work of the charity, visit www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk or call 0845 519 9371.