Thousands of miles covered in Horsham Cycle Challenge

JPCT 260713 Horsham Cycle Challenge presentations. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 260713 Horsham Cycle Challenge presentations. Photo by Derek Martin

More than 21,000 miles were covered by the 48 organisations which took part in Horsham’s first Cycle Challenge.

A total of 469 people saddled up between July 1 and 21.

The initiative, spearheaded by locals Louise Skipton-Carter and Sharon Frankland, was an effort to get as many Horsham residents and workers as possible to shake off the dust from their bikes.

Businesses, agencies and charities were encouraged to sign up as many participants as possible and cycle as little or as much as they liked within the three week period.

Those who swapped cars for bikes saved a combined total of £5,494 based on 26p per mile, and 6,897 CO2 emissions.

The challenge concluded with an awards ceremony at Bill’s Restaurant in Horsham town centre on Friday July 26.

Simon Brotherton, BBC TV commentator who had just returned from Tour De France, made a special guest appearance.

He said passion for cycling in the Horsham area is rife, and has only become more popular after the British success of Bradley Wiggins and more recently Chris Froome, who stormed to victory in this year’s Tour De France.

“You don’t have to shave your legs and shoot around the streets sweating buckets,” the Horsham local said.

“You can take it as hard or as relatively slow as you like - that’s the great thing about the sport.”

He said gone are the days of it being ‘nerdy or weird’ to ride a bike as the sport is much more mainstream these days.

The commentator continued: “It would be a shame not to take advantage of our lovely countryside.

“If you live in the Horsham area there’s no excuse not to go out and enjoy it.”

More than 100 of those who took part in the Horsham Cycle Challenge were not regular cyclists, and it is hoped the scheme will encourage participants to ditch the car keys for a helmet and bike in the future.

“This is a great initiative and fantastic that we’ve got around 50 organisations involved in the first year,” he added.

Sarah Bower, a Sociology and Critical Thinking teacher at Collyer’s College in Horsham, took part in the challenge with 16 others from the college.

She says participants are already using their bikes more since the scheme.

“The important thing is just getting people out,” she said. “We had a lovely ride to a pub in Southwater.”

Co-organiser Sharon Frankland said the duo were ‘really excited’ at the number of people who entered the challenge.

Louise Skipton-Carter added: “Generally everyone we’ve approached has been very upbeat about it. And all those who have managed to get on a bike have come back smiling.”

Representatives from the organisations which took part were praised for encouraging staff to get involved with the scheme and were awarded a cake and certificate.