Cyclists of all ages and abilities will try to prove they are faster than a steam train at a fundraising event next month.
This year’s Pace The Train challenge, first held in 2003, is set to be bigger than ever before to celebrate the Tour de France coming to the district in July, and will cater for disabled athletes for the first time.
Riders will set off at 5.45pm on Sunday, May 25, the same time the train leaves Keighley, and attempt to ride a 4.8 mile route to Oxenhope station – the same distance as the train has to travel up the Keighley and Worth Valley line – to try to beat the steam engine to its destination.
By teaming up with Cycling 4 All at Bradford University, organisers at Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope hospice hope to make the event fully inclusive, helped by the fact that road closures have been secured on this year’s course.
Andrew Wood, regional fundraiser for Sue Ryder which runs Manorlands, said: “We have always wanted to get the roads closed to allow more families to take part, and this year’s ride will be much safer for cyclists of all abilities and a real community event.
“There will be different distances if people want to do a longer or shorter course, so there is a challenge for everyone.
“Even those who don’t outpace the train will have the excitement of hearing it chuffing behind them and seeing the white jets of steam as it passes by.”
Cyclists have the opportunity to take the traditional option of following the train from Keighley, up Halifax Road, a Tour de France climb, to Oxenhope, or taking part in the new all-inclusive looped course, starting from Manorlands, along a closed section of Hebden Road to Haworth Brow and back.
Riders can also choose from four distances as part of the looped course, ranging from 2.5 to nine miles.
Adam Tasker, project co-ordinator at Cycling 4 All, said the challenge would signify the UK’s first closed-road event catering for disabled cyclists.
“It seemed something quirky and different, and I’d urge everyone to come along and join in the carnival atmosphere,” he said.
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.pacethetrain.org.uk.