More than 1,100 people saddled up and made it a record turnout for the 10th anniversary Cycle 4 Cynthia charity bike ride at Althorp.
The event, which raises money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support, took place this morning under bright sunny skies, with competitors able to choose from a five, 25 or 50-mile route.
The fund-raiser again attracted the support of a number of local celebrities, as well as Prince Harry, who sent a personally-signed letter wishing everyone taking part in the event well.
Northampton Saints coach Jim Mallinder and player Dylan Hartley took part in the ride, as did former county cricket and England international, Allan Lamb.
And setting the riders on their way was DJ Jo Whiley.
She said: “I was here last year and I had my kids with me, and we did the five-mile race. It is a great local charity. I come from Brington and it is where my family are now, so it means a lot to me.
“It is such a lovely day, and as it’s the 10th anniversary you can really feel the atmosphere. It feels like a real celebration of everything they have achieved. It is a wonderful place to be.”
Mr Lamb said: “It is a fantastic cause and we’ve got an absolutely perfect day for it. I am putting the body on the line and doing the 50 mile ride.”
Mr Mallinder said: “I think it is fantastic, and for a really good cause. It is a local charity and we are delighted we can get so many Saints people doing it.”
Mr Hartley took part on a bike sporting a bright pink saddle.
He said: “I played yesterday so I’m only doing five miles. My other bike got stolen and that had gears - this one’s only got one gear and there are a few hills around here, so I think I might struggle! But it’s only five miles, so it should be OK.”
The riders taking part in the event all had their own reasons for supporting it.
Tim Cullumbine, aged 50, of Plymouth had converted a three-wheeled bike to run with electric assistance, so his mum Tricia could take part in the ride.
They were taking part in memory of Barry Cullumbine, Tim’s dad and Tricia’s husband, who spent his final days at Cynthia Spencer Hospice.
Mr Cullumbine said: “The bike used to belong to the Plymouth Evening Herald, and rode around the town with copies of the paper on the back. It’s been sat in someone’s garden for 15 years.”
Jonathan Rippin, aged 46, of Birmingham said: “It is the first time I have done it. I work at Northampton General Hospital and we have done a lot with the hospice.
“I’m doing the 25-mile ride. I’m not a sports cyclist, but I’m a regular cycling commuter.”
The event organisers were delighted with the turnout on the day.
Sue Bownass, from the Friends of Cynthia Spencer Hospice, said: “It is great. The gods have shined on us today.
“It means absolutely everything. We have got support from local people, we have got support from Prince Harry, we have got support from our celebrities - it is just tremendous, and on our 10th anniversary, it couldn’t be better.”
Chief marshal John Shephard said: “We had 998 overnight and at least 100 registered this morning.
“It has grown every year, and this is certainly the biggest and best.”