We held our 10th annual Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge on Sunday 5th September and what a day it was!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to cancel the event in May 2020 and then postponed it back in May this year. However, we were delighted to be able to reschedule it to run in line with the start of Air Ambulance Week 2021.

Hundreds of cyclists took part on the day, cycling either the 55-mile route from Washford Cross Park and Ride in Watchet, to the beautiful Dorset seaside resort of West Bay, or a shorter 11-mile route which started at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton, also finishing at West Bay.

Once again, Watchet Town Crier, David Milton set the cyclists on their way at 11.00am. The route took them through some of Dorset and Somerset’s most beautiful countryside, with a mixture of quiet back roads, some very demanding hill climbs and equally hairy descents.

Crowds were seen gathering at various points along the route; cheering and clapping as the cyclists rode past, whilst three well-stocked pit stops provided a well-earned rest and refreshments 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. Many faces lapped up the sunshine, whilst eagerly awaiting the return of their loved ones, colleagues and friends.

Those who took part included former patients who had experienced our life-saving work first-hand, others cycled in memory of loved ones, as a personal challenge, or as a team.

At 82 years young, Brian Dale (pictured) was the oldest participant completing the 55-mile route. Brian gleamed as he crossed the finish line and said:

“This event is wonderful! A couple of the hills were a handful, but fortunately I got towed along at times by some of the groups which was very handy. I took part about four years ago; it really is a brilliant event and everything on the day was perfect.”

Rowan Murless aged 12 cycled alongside his dad Joseph. He was the youngest participant who completed the 55-mile route. The two youngest cyclists overall were George and Emily Hyde (aged 9 and 11 respectively) who individually cycled the 11-mile route, their dad Dr. Phil Hyde.

Our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge is an event which certainly brings people together. It’s also an extremely emotional day for many of those taking part. None more so than Andrew Studley (pictured), who had been waiting since 2019 for an operation to remove an acoustic neuroma (a type of brain tumour). Speaking at the finish line, Andrew said:

“On 1st June last year, I was unable to walk after having the operation. This has been a big thing for me; I have trained a bit over the past month and it’s my first big ride of the year. When I went through my home town of Drimpton and saw my mum, dad and girlfriend there, it was super emotional. It was brilliant and I loved it.”

Bill Sivewright, our Chief Executive Officer gave praise to everyone involved and said:

“This year’s event was very special and many of the riders expressed their gratitude to the charity for making it happen. Having an event that attracts such an amazing range of people taking part, seems entirely appropriate for a service that is there for anyone who needs us. As ever, we are incredibly grateful to all the riders who took on the challenge and to those who sponsored them on their quest. I have to say a huge thank you to the small army of volunteers who made the whole day possible and to our 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.”

Next year, the Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge will revert back to being held in May. Online registration will open in January via our website.

All the photos taken on the day, can be viewed, or downloaded here.