Cyclists brave the elements and saddle up for a tour de force

10 September 2017 7:54PM

DEFIANT cyclists took to the streets to raise thousands for charities in the area.

Participants from south Cumbria and beyond gathered at Roose Conservatives Club for the 22nd Tour de Furness challenge.

They undertook one of four courses around the Furness peninsula, ranging from five miles up to 50.

With registrations open since before the sun came up, many cyclists set off early in the morning in an attempt to avoid the strong winds and heavy rain which hit the area.

We couldn't do it without the support and equally we couldn't do it without the riders, so it's a massive, massive team effort.

Once again, the tour saw hundreds of riders taking part.

Brian Boyd, organiser of this year's event, said: "It's been really, really good. We'd hoped for better weather but it's nothing we can't deal with.

"There's been a great number of people taking part. We've had well over 400 riders on all the courses.

"The first rider went through Coniston at 8.28 this morning and we've been here at the start line setting up and taking registrations since 5.15am."

The Tour de Furness offers challenges for all abilities and ages, with five-mile, 13-mile, 23-mile and 50-mile courses.

Mr Boyd said: "Well done to everyone for taking part and to everybody who's supported in any capacity. The support from the local organisations is invaluable.

"We couldn't do it without the support and equally we couldn't do it without the riders, so it's a massive, massive team effort.

"There's a lot of youngsters taking on the five-miler, and even some brilliant young kids on the 23-mile course, so well done to them. It's excellent work, and more than I could do myself.

"We've got a five-mile course which is fairly simple down to Rampside, but we've also got a 50-mile one which is useful for the enthusiasts and certainly not for the faint-hearted.

"Everybody that puts any effort into the courses is really, really good, but we want it to be a fun ride, not a race."

The event has been running for the past 22 years, and has raised almost £500,000 in that time.

Mr Boyd said: "We always raise quite a lot for charity, last year we had about £40,000 from everybody that we took part.

"It all goes to the baby fund at Furness General Hospital and to St Mary's Hospice, and a few other charities.

"Since it started we think there's been over 7,000 riders taking part and altogether they've raised around £450,000 for charity.

"Every year we seem to just go from strength to strength."

Last year's event was blighted with an attempted sabotage after drawing pins were scattered along part of the cycle route.

Ahead of this weekend's event, members of Ulverston Tri Club took to social media to warn those training for the big day about potential hazards.

The warning came after they found more tacks on the road a week earlier.

The pins are thought to have been left near Rampside roundabout, in a similar fashion to last year, when many riders had to repair punctures during the charity ride after brass pins were scattered along the coast road.

Mr Boyd said: "We're always worried about things like that. We don't want to see anything like it and I can't begin to understand anybody's philosophy when they do that.

"We've had a quick sweep this morning and we believe there's no hazards on the road. I think the only hazard we've got is the weather.

"Thankfully there's no tacks that we know of but if we find any at all then we'll make every effort to get rid of them."

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