More than 100 cyclists turned out to raise an estimated £12,700 in pledges for Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice as they took on the latest JE James and Derbyshire Times Flagg Challenge.
As organisers began setting up the event from 7am, on Sunday, a brave patient’s relative offered to help despite having just heard his mother’s condition had become critical.
The stark reality of the hospice’s work immediately brought into focus the motivation behind this Peak District event and the riders’ efforts to raise as much cash as possible to ensure the charity’s vital work continues.
Ashgate Hospice’s Alison Ward-Foster said: “We really want to thank all those who joined us during the Flagg Challenge on our journey to keep caring for seriously-ill patients and their families.”
Riders were joined by Olympic cycle medallist Bryan Steel who chatted with entrants for both the 25mile and 50mile sponsored Challenge rides before taking on the 50mile route to and from the hospice at Old Brampton.
Bryan said: “The Flagg Challenge was absolutely fantastic with a great mix of riders of all abilities doing a ride together on such a good course.
“My sister-in-law died about four years ago and she was in a hospice similar to Ashgate and it’s places like this that made such a big difference for our family. They are vital and we should support them as much as we can.”
As the field stretched out, the courage of the cyclists soon became apparent as one entrant had tried to take on the Challenge despite suffering with a virus and sadly had to abandon.
Another who was taking on the 50miler in honour of a friend who had passed away suffered a mechanical problem but a fellow cyclist kindly gave him his bike so he could complete the ride.
Rider marshal Dean Poole, of JE James, also helped another cyclist battling a painful and only recently healed broken leg to complete the 50miler.
One entrant even struck a tree but showed great determination to get back on his bike and cross the finish line.
The success of the event would also not have been possible without the volunteer foot marshals, rider marshals and Gilder Group back-up event vehicles who helped shape a superbly-run fourth Flagg Challenge.
Dean Poole, of JE James, said: “Helping the hospice, the patients and their families is what this event was all about and this was clearly a driving force for all those who volunteered, took part and completed the Flagg Challenge.”