HIT the Downs MTB is back with a brand new venue and cycle routes for 2019.

Now in its third year, the off-road charity cycling challenge is taking place on Sunday 12 May with cyclists raising money for Worthing-based adults’ hospice, St Barnabas House, or local children’s hospice, Chestnut Tree House.

Open to experienced and new cyclists alike, participants can choose from a cool 30km route – suitable for all abilities with some training – or a more challenging 60km course for experienced riders.

Both routes will set off from Adur Recreational Ground in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Lucy Brady, Events and Campaigns Fundraiser for St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House, said: “The routes through the South Downs National Park are stunning and cyclists can expect some mighty climbs and exhilarating descents.

“If you’re relatively new to two wheels, we’re offering free training rides in the build up to the event.

“On the day, there will be staggered start waves, chip timing and refreshments along the route.

“At last year’s event there were over 450 riders, who came from across Sussex and further afield, and together they raised an incredible £70,000 for both hospices.”

Patrick Berrera, 50, from Worthing, has already registered to do the 60km route in support of St Barnabas House, a charity close to his heart.

Patrick said: “I’ve seen a number of close friends, who have unfortunately left us far too early in life, as well as family friends, see out their last days in the hospice. The people and facilities at St Barnabas are amazing and make such a huge difference at such a critical time.”

Mel Crockett was the first person to register to take part in the 2019 Hit the Downs MTB in support of Chestnut Tree House.

A keen cyclist, Mel has taken part in the Chestnut Sussex 100, as well as the London to Brighton bike ride, but this will be her first off-road event.

Mel said: “I love riding my bikes, both on and off-road, so am really looking forward to this event.

“I’m taking part in Hit the Downs MTB in memory of a friend’s little girl, who sadly passed away very young.”