Another Spectacular Coast to Coast!

May 17, 2017 by Tracy

Starting point at Watchet HarbourHundreds of cyclists assembled at Watchet Harbour on the Somerset coast to take part in the 7th annual Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday 14th May.

The event, which is not a race, saw a total of 580 cyclists turn out on the day, in what has become an annual spectacular.  564 cyclists took part in the gruelling but glorious 54 mile ride to West Bay in Dorset and a further 16 cyclists completed the shorter 11-mile route which began at Drimpton and also ended at West Bay.

This year, for the first time, the cyclists were joined by members of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance crew who also took part (pictured).  The team, who called themselves the ‘COASTBUSTERS’ headed up the starting line on singletons, triplet bikes and an incredible kinder tandem. And they are off!

It wasn’t long before Watchet Town Crier David Milton, ramped up the proceedings, began the official countdown and set the cyclists on their way.

Crowds were seen gathering at various points along the route; cheering and clapping as the cyclists rode past and the four well-stocked pit stops provided a well-earned rest for those that wanted it.

An electric atmosphere began building at West Bay as families, friends and colleagues began arriving in support of those taking part.  It took just over two and a half hours for the first group of keen cyclists to arrive.Les Thomas, Kev Watts and Richard Woodward

Les Thomas, Kev Watts and Richard Woodward were the first three cyclists to cross the finish line.  Together they explained how this year’s event was certainly a challenge with a tough head wind during the last ten miles.  “We might possibly need the air ambulance to get home.  The event was fantastically organised, the scenery on route was superb and there’s such a friendly atmosphere.  It’s great!”

Kate and Thomas Cadbury with they son JoshuaThe first female to arrive at West Bay was Kate Cadbury.  Cycling with her husband Thomas, the pair were joined by their five year old son Joshua as they approached the finish line.

At 79 years young, Brian Pursall was once again the oldest participant of the day.  He took part for Brian Pursallthe third time and cycled the full 54 miles. Freya Williams was the first child who cycled the 11 mile route to arrive at West Bay, closely followed by the youngest individual participant Olivia Reid (aged 11), who took part on the bike that she won last year when she raised the most sponsorship in the Under 16 category.

Of those taking part, there were former patients who had experienced the work of the air ambulance first-hand.  Others cycled in memory of loved ones, as part of a team, or simply as a personal challenge to show their support for the life-saving Charity.

Giles Bissett (left) with his C2C gang!Giles Bissett cycled in memory of his father who sadly died six years ago when he had a heart attack at the wheel of his car.  “The air ambulance did all they could to try and save my father but unfortunately the heart attack he suffered was too severe.  I must commend the crew as they were all brilliant and tried everything in their powers to help.  Dad loved this part of the world and I am sure he was with us all the way.”

David Linney is Yeovil Town Football Club’s Commercial Manager.  In 2011 David Linneythe club’s current manager, Darren Way (a talented midfielder for the ‘Glovers’) was involved in a major road traffic incident.  Darren was airlifted by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance to Dorset County Hospital where he was treated for multiple injuries.  “After intensive treatment, Darren made a miraculous recovery, however unfortunately his playing career ended in his 20’s.  He is indebted and grateful for the marvellous response by the air ambulance and I am delighted to be able to do my bit to help this great charity.”

Janie FieldhouseJanie Fieldhouse suffered serious injuries whilst out cycling. She was found lying in the road next to her bike.  “The air ambulance came to my aid and I was airlifted to Southmead Hospital where I was diagnosed with a broken back, broken jaw, broken ribs, a brain injury and a missing tooth.  Over a three month period I spent time in three different hospitals.  Now eighteen months on, I am still recovering and waiting for additional reconstructive surgery on my face however I am back on my bike and delighted to cycle alongside my heroes in the sky.”

This year saw a record number of teams take part; 65 in total.  By far the largest group were Team o’ Tumblers (pictured) who once again came out in force with 40 members, all wearing their traditional blue shirts.  The team’s organiser Rupert Rees said:Team o' Tumblers

“For the fourth year running, Team o' Tumblers have come out in force to enjoy the wonderful Coast to Coast ride. Forty Tumblers who are supporters of hunting, riding and racing, but more importantly passionate supporters of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, completed the challenge. We have a range of cycling abilities but that really doesn't matter, it's the taking part and the challenge that we enjoy.  So far, the team has raised in excess of £16,000 with the promise of more donations to follow.  We would like to thank the Charity and their team of volunteers for making the day so successful.”

DSAA's AW169 helicopter

The day was made even better when the Charity’s new AW169 helicopter made an appearance.  Members of the public were given an opportunity to see the aircraft up close and talk the Pilot Mario Carretta.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer said:

“As a rider, this year’s event was probably the hardest yet, due to the strong headwind over the last few miles.  That being said, it was incredible to see so many cyclists absolutely determined to meet the challenge.   Whilst speaking to many of them along the route, it was clear that everyone had their own special reason for taking part however there were two common themes throughout; ‘I/we wanted to support the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance’ and ‘It was very friendly and so well organised.’An amazing achievement!

The logistical challenge of setting up the start and finish lines, together with the pit stops would have been a daunting task for any organisation.  But, add to that, the safe marshalling of around 600 cyclists over 54 miles of public roads and the true scale of the enterprise is revealed.  I am incredibly proud of the staff and army of volunteers who did such a fantastic job of managing the event in such a warm and friendly manner throughout.

As ever, we are incredibly grateful to all the riders who took on the challenge and to those who sponsored them on their quest.  A final thank you goes to the event sponsors, pit stop locations, local councils and the Police and Ambulance Service for their support in helping to make the day such a success.”

Last year, the Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge raised over £81,000 (including gift aid). Prizes will be awarded to those who raise the most in sponsorship in the following categories: Adult, Under 16 and Team. These will be presented later in the year when all funds are received.  Closing date for sponsorship is 1 August 2017.

DON’T FORGET! – It’s not too late to show your support for our ‘COASTBUSTERS’ Team!  Please donate whatever you can via their JustGiving Page:  Every penny will make a big difference - Thank you!

All the photos taken on the day can be viewed and downloaded for free by clicking HERE!