Intergalactic hero among Wheelie Big field

Hundreds break new ground on updated routes

Hundreds of cyclists – and an intergalactic hero – broke new ground on Sunday while raising thousands of pounds for St Michael’s Hospice.

Fundraisers were the first to try four new routes during this year’s Wheelie Big Cycle, an annual ride organised by the Bartestree-based charity.

Each of the 24, 40, 58 and 100-mile routes took riders from Hereford’s Livestock Market on Roman Road out into the glorious Herefordshire countryside and as far as Powys for the 100-mile route – the longest in the event’s history.

Among the more eye-catching cyclists were Michael Bale and Tom Beattie who reminded onlookers of hit 1980s movie E.T.

Michael successfully completed the 24-mile route riding a Raleigh Chopper, which cost £20 and two books of Green Shield stamps back in July 1977.

Tom rode a newly-restored 1985 BMX with E.T. riding along in the front basket while playing the famous theme tune from the movie.

Tom said, ‘We both took part in last year’s Wheelie Big and we thought the challenge of getting to the start line on bikes never designed for long distances would be a perfect idea for helping raise sponsorship for St Michael’s.’

For younger riders, there was a welcome return for the Wheelie Little Cycle which takes little ones on off-road laps of the Livestock Market.

Those who help ensure the event can run smoothly each year are the marshals who volunteer their time to run water stations, signpost and encourage the riders while out on the various routes.

‘We have marshalled for the Wheelie Big Cycle at the same crossroads for the past four years,’ said Lynda Davey, who marshals with her husband, Simon, between Credenhill and Garnons.

‘Apart from the fact we enjoy it, we feel that if hundreds of people can get out of bed and give up their Sunday to cycle around Herefordshire and surrounding areas to raise money for St Michael’s Hospice, the least we can do is stand at a crossroads, ensure that they travel across it safely and cheer them on as they go by. The cyclists are really polite to us and very appreciative that after their marathon efforts they don’t have to stop.’

The event is sponsored by Vertu Motors.

Among the Hospice events coming up is the Venus Midnight Walk which takes place on Friday, 21st September.

For more information visit st-michaels-hospice.org.uk