NINETEEN Bradford cyclists have made it back jubilant but exhausted from an epic ride to Bradford’s twin city of Roubaix, in northern France.
The riders, members of the Bradford Cycling Club, set off from City Park on Wednesday, April 5, as part of a challenge to raise money for two charities – The Bradford Bulls Foundation, which provides a traffic-free training facility for the city’s cyclists, and Choices4All, a charity which helps disabled people to access sports and activities in the Bradford area.
The route took them to the finish line of the annual 101-mile Paris-Roubaix road race where the riders were guests of honour at a civic reception hosted by Guillaume Delbar, mayor of Roubaix, and Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France.
“It was amazing. We were treated like royalty,” said Bradford Cycling Club member and one of the organisers, Taras Stefanyszyn.
“We were even awarded a replica of the Paris-Roubaix cobble trophy, made from a cobblestone taken from the route known as the Hell of the North.”
The first group made it back into Bradford at around 6pm on Tuesday, with the remaining team members around an hour behind.
Mr Stefanyszyn added: “The whole ride was gruelling, not only for those of us who are experienced riders, but for those who had not ridden before until recently, so we are thrilled to be back, if not exhausted.
“One rider hadn’t ridden at all before and another, a 13-year-old boy, had broken his leg nine weeks ago.
“We hope to make this an annual event to forge strong cycling links between the two cities. Next year I hope to take 100 riders.”
One of the novice riders was Bradford Bulls Foundation development officer Duane Scott.
The honour for being the first rider home went to 69-year-old Satwant Singh, a technician at Bradford University, who took up cycling just four months ago.
“It was a very strenuous ride. I have never cycled in Europe before and never continuously for five days so I thought I would give it a try.
“I am extremely proud to have achieved it though I think the others in the group allowed me to cycle home first,” he said.
"I think cycling is a wonderful pastime that more people in Bradford should take up. it is becoming more popular but there are still very few who cycle, particularly those from the Asian community and I hope to encourage more to do it."
Mr Singh has organised a 24-hour cycling marathon on fixed cycles to encourage people to take up the activity.
It is taking place between 7pm on Friday, April 14, and 7pm on Saturday, April 15, at the Ramgarhia Gurdwara Sikh temple, in Bolton Road, Bradford.
The challenge will also be an opportunity to raise money for charities the temple supports.