GET on yer bikes – if rugby legend Phil Vickery can haul himself up a hill anyone can.
The star of Kingsholm and BBC sports presenter Jill Douglas teamed up yesterday to launch the Pied Piper Appeal’s Sportive cycling challenge.
The concept is simple – riders of any ability can cycle 30, 60 or 100 miles and in return valuable money is raised to help sick children in Gloucestershire.
“It’s the perfect excuse to get on your bike,” said Jill, who has covered just about every sporting event worth going to during her journalism career, including three Olympics and the Tour de France. “The perfect cyclist is someone that wants to do it. If Phil can get up a hill then anyone can do it.
VIDEO: Jill Douglas and Phil Vickery have a chat
“I love to go up Cleeve Hill and hop on a bike. We’ve got some of the best roads here in Gloucestershire too. While running might not be for everyone, we all eventually learn to ride a bike – so we should all get out there and give it a go.”
Jill cycled from London to Paris last year, covering some 80 miles per day. She added: “I love cycling on my own but there’s nothing better than being with a group of people, especially if you don’t know them, because the comradery is great.”
Phil, 38, a former England and Gloucester player, is a vice patron of the Pied Piper Appeal. He said: “Rugby is a very giving sport. In my playing day here in Gloucester supporting charities was very much a part of what we did.
“I have now been vice patron for 10 years and I have seen first hand the good work that the charity does.
“It is great that we have the support of Gloucester Rugby to launch this event from such an iconic place. It makes me feel proud to be a part of it.
“For me what makes it all worthwhile is when you see how the money raised makes a difference to children here in Gloucestershire.
“I will be getting on my bike and will try to get a few lads involved too. I will do as many miles as I can but I’m certainly not the fastest.”
It is hoped that some 500 cyclists will leave from Kingsholm Stadium on June 1 at 8am. All the routes – 50, 100 or 160km – will end there too.
It costs £25 to enter and cyclists will be asked to gain their own sponsors too. All of the funds raised go toward the Pied Piper Appeal.
Cyclists will enjoy the picturesque countryside to the west of Gloucester before tackling hilly terrain in the Forest of Dean. There will be well-stocked feed stations and full mechanical and medical support along the way.
Ian Eggleton, from the Pied Piper Appeal promotions board, said: “Sportive is not a race and anyone can take part. I think it is going to be a great day – and it is all about supporting kids in Gloucestershire who need our help.
“We’ve already got more than 100 people signed up and it hasn’t even launched yet. We would be happy with 500 people taking part but there is room for more – we could even accept 750 or 1,000 people.”
To register for a place at Sportive visit piedpipersportive.co.uk or call Andy Kirk, at organisers Velo Events, on 01385 851946.