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The Argus Appeal's very own Tour de France
Cyclists have spoken of their joy after completing hundreds of miles through northern France on a charity bike ride.
Fifty bikers are set for a well-earned rest after completing 150 miles during the Brighton to Paris for The Argus Appeal.
Their exertions under the baking French sun are expected to raise about £30,000 for those most in need in the county.
The Argus editor and Argus Appeal chairman Michael Beard led the first band of 35 riders from Madeira Drive, Brighton, at the beginning of a five-day cycle on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the team set off from Dieppe at about 10.15am and began arriving in Gournay-en-Bray by 3pm, travelling for most of the day along the converted railway line of the Avenue Verte.
The following day, the first group rode 53 miles from Gourney-en-Bray to Chantilly with stop-offs at Saint-Aubin-en-Bray and Noailles.
The charity ride ended with a 42-mile leg arriving in Paris on Saturday afternoon.
Hot on their heels, a second group of 15 cyclists left Dieppe for an even tougher challenge of 140 miles over two intense cycling days.
This second group cycled 50 miles from Dieppe to Gourney-en-Bray on Friday but had little time to rest their weary limbs before another 90-mile trek from Gourney to Paris on Saturday.
Both teams, who receive the assistance of volunteer support teams throughout the ride, arrived back in Brighton on Sunday having enjoyed a well-earned day of rest in the French capital.
It hasn’t been completely plain sailing for the participants with one cyclist suffering an unprecedented five punctures in one day while another participant had a catastrophic collapse of their bike gears on Friday.
Another group nearly got lost on the last section of the 90-mile leg after missing some signs but thankfully made it to the French capital.
The Argus Appeal Brighton to Paris bike ride brings in participants from all walks of life.
This year, The Argus Appeal is very grateful to the staff from Jamie’s Italian restaurant, Legal and General and TSS Facilities for taking part.
Other participants include a taxi driver, a security guard and a police officer.
The total package for those taking part, who raised a minimum of £350 in sponsorship to take part, included accommodation and a return to the UK on Eurostar.
The annual Brighton to Paris Bike Ride is one of the major fundraisers for The Argus Appeal.
The newspaper’s charity has been working at the heart of the Sussex community for almost 55 years supporting those in real need.
Mr Beard, who was taking part in his third cycle ride, said yesterday: “Thanks to everybody for supporting this year’s ride.
“It was obvious from the feedback we have had that everybody really enjoyed the ride but also that they wanted to support The Appeal and the causes it supports.
“Thanks also to the small army of stewards who made sure that everything ran like clockwork and dealt with everything that was thrown at them.
“Due to the support of Legal and General every single penny raised will go to local charities.
“Next year we are doing a ride through Ghent and Bruges in Belgium so readers should watch out for details in The Argus very soon.”
Jason Mamoany, 44, from Hurstpierpoint said: “It was well organised, and the support riders were top notch.
“The second day of 90 miles after 48 miles on the first day was tough, if it wasn’t for all the support and camaraderie I would have packed it in before the finish line.
“I have never done anything like this before but me and my mate have raised about £2,000.”
David Moore, 43 from Parafix Tapes and Conversions Ltd, said: “It was great fun, great craic.
“All the people who took part are different ages and different abilities but as a group they all came together and helped each other out, it’s like a big family group.
“I am looking forward to doing Belgium next year.”
Mya Green, 52, from Hove, and Tony Bartolo, 54, from London, said: “It was very good, very rewarding and very well organised.
“Because it’s with The Argus Appeal, you know it will be well organised and it’s all put together very well.
“We are not proper cycling people so it’s a little bit harder for us than other people but it’s not a killer.”
Jocelyn Owen, 51, from Brighton, was joined by her friends Jette Baker, 53, from Bath, and Philippa Woodhouse, 43, from London.
She said: “It was really well organised and there was great camaraderie, it was great doing it with a group of friends.
“It wasn’t as hard as my friends thought it was going to be.
“The weather was brilliant.”
Ben Wallbank, 29, from Hove, took part in the more extreme two-day challenge.
He said: “I signed up after seeing a sign up on Devil’s Dyke.
“I had seen other Paris to Brighton bike rides but they make a profit whereas the money goes to the community and you still get to go to Paris.”
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