The tweets poured in for what was the fourth and possibly the “greatest” Haywards Heath Bike Ride so far.
Organisers and sponsors said they were thrilled by the overwhelming support for yesterday’s (Sunday May 18) event that saw nearly 1,000 riders pedal between 11 and 74 miles on four different routes.
Among the comments on Twitter were: “Best ever!”; “Superb day”; “Great event, fantastic cause”; and “At the start line ready for the Tour de Haywards Heath”.
From the off to the finish there was a party atmosphere and the huge event looks set to have reached its target for buying vital syringe drivers for cancer patients.
In glorious sunshine, on what was rumoured to be the hottest day of the year so far, just under 1,000 riders took part, with numbers swelled by family, friends and well-wishers along the route.
The chilly climes of recent weeks gave way to perfect cycling weather and, with the Broadway festooned in red, white and blue bunting, the riders, including the mayor and deputy mayor of the twin town of Bondues in France, were sent on their way by MP Nicholas Soames.
Mr Soames welcomed the event’s international cousins and the huge number of cyclists who came from all over the South East.
He said: “This is just a superbly organised event and I’m very pleased to see how it is so well supported not just by our local cyclists, but the business community too.
“It’s going to be another wonderful day and we must all be grateful to the organisers and sponsors; a great cause and a great day.”
Mr Soames was joined at the starting line by the Bike Ride’s major business sponsors: Andy James from 1st Central, Nicola Bird from The Orchards, Sharon Pargeter from The Nuffield and Ian Masters from Masters & Son.
Haywards Heath mayor Sandy Ellis was also there to offer encouragement and then jumped on her bike to ride for Help the Heroes.
Once the grown-up riders had set off, it was the turn of the Mini Bike Ride, organised by Robin’s Nest Nursery, proving that there are many a budding Bradley Wiggins in the town as the youngsters whizzed around the circuit, all receiving a medal for their efforts at the end.
As the riders proper began to come home, the Ruwach Church Band struck up with a performance of toe-tapping tunes that got those with energy to spare dancing in the streets.
St. Catherine’s Hospice was also in evidence providing stalls and games as, according to one of the organiser Ruth de Mierre, it seemed the whole of the town began to party in the Broadway, while Maria Humphrey gave much needed massages to those with tired and weary muscles.
Ruth, who was among the organisers of a pre-event registration in the Orchards on Saturday as well, said: “What an incredible day! It was truly the best Bike Ride we’ve ever held.
“A truly heartfelt thank you to all our sponsors who have continued to believe in us and support us so brilliantly and welcome to Sainsbury’s who, this year, contributed all the very necessary water our riders needed!
“But special thanks must also go to our volunteers, marshals and registrars without whom there would be no bike ride, and especially to Steve Trice and his Team at HHTC (Haywards Heath Town Council) who have been with us from the start and the most amazing support and strength.
Ruth added a final word on the event, summing up her’s and other’s gratitude to the nearly 1,000 riders who took to their bikes on one or more of the four routes that varied in length from 11 miles to 72 miles.
She said: “Last, but not least, thanks to everyone who rode; we do hope you had as good a day as we did and hope we’ll see you again next year!”
VIDEO and SLIDESHOW to follow and many more fabulous pictures by staff photographer Steve Robards of riders and their bikes in this week’s Mid Sussex Times in shops on Thursday