Cyclists saddle up for gruelling ride

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Seven cyclists are preparing to saddle up to raise more than £100,000 to fund 25 apprenticeships in Calderdale.

The group which includes Martin Haigh and Dene Townend both from Brighouse will cycle 900 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise the cash.

Dene Townend and Martin Haigh who are taking part in the Land's End to John O'Groats cycle to raise funds for 25 apprenticeships in Calderdale

Dene Townend and Martin Haigh who are taking part in the Land's End to John O'Groats cycle to raise funds for 25 apprenticeships in Calderdale

The cyclists also have the backing of the Mayor of Calderdale Coun John Hardy. Calderdale Apprentices is his charity of the year and with the help of corporate sponsorship and fund raisers they have raised around £70,000.

“We think this will be catalyst to get the economy stimulated because young people are the future,” said Martin. “It is an opportunity to get the ball rolling and get young people into work.”

Local schools have also been helping to raise funds by cycling the route on exercise bikes while donating funds. These include Carr Green Primary School, Rastrick, and St Chad’s CE Primary School, Hove Edge. All the money raised at each school has been split between the cycle event and its dedicated charity.

The group has been on their bikes preparing for the challenge. They have been training most weekends apart from when the snow came down including a ride to Grassington and back and then the following day to Thrisk and back to get used to doing long rides in concession.

The ride will start on April 18 and will last 9.5 days and will do approximately 108 miles a day. On April 23 they will pass through Walsden in Calderdale. They will be joined by 200 cyclists including Coun Hardy who will cycle through Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, King Cross and to Eureka where there will be a reception party for the group.

Martin who runs Lattitude7 is naturally a runner and apart from a few triathlons he hadn’t done a lot of cycling before this event. “At this moment in time we are ready to go but at the same time a bit apprehensive,” said the 59-year-old. “This is such an important way to get the economy moving and we want as many people to come and shout for us on April 23.

“The ride is about the charity but also to encourage people to get back cycling and raise awareness of fitness and get people out there. The enthusiasm we have seen in schools shows we are missing an opportunity.”

Dene is a runner with Halifax Harriers which is how he knows Martin. The 54-year-old who works at Sainsbury’s in Brighouse said he has cycled all his life as just a means of getting around. “I am slightly nervous because I came off my bike at the beginning of the year so I had to have a month off at a time when I needed to be increasing my training,” he said. “But by raising this money we are giving people an opportunity they might not have had in this current climate.”

To sponsor the team visit www.cycleforwork.co.uk and for an individual cyclist by clicking on their profile.