HUDDERSFIELD Town fans who took to their bikes to pedal around 300 miles for the last away game of the season, earned an ovation on arrival at Brighton’s stadium on Saturday.
Around 170 cyclists — including Heckmondwike-born chairman Dean Hoyle — completed the gruelling ride in the Pink Link Pedal for Pounds appeal for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Town Academy.
Bob Heward, of Heckmondwike, completed the 283 mile ride from Huddersfield, with stops at Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Gatwick, without mishap.
“I had trained hard on the hills around Huddersfield and coped quite well but it was exceptionally difficult for those new to cycling, so they are the real heroes,” he said.
“It was a fantastic experience and the camaraderie was outstanding. Andy Booth, football legend and club Ambassador was in my group along with Sean Jarvis, the club’s commercial director, and it would be hard to think of many football clubs where people of their stature would get involved.
“The riders started each day around 8.30 and most groups reached their hotels by 6pm, although some groups didn’t arrive until after dark due to punctures and wrong turns. The excellent support operation provided refreshment, fruit, snacks and lunch after 25 and 50 miles.
“Although we passed through central London on the day of the Royal Wedding, the only evidence we saw were street parties along the way, gatecrashing one of them to take an impromptu collection.”
Fellow rider Ashley Raine of Upper Hopton, also completed the challenge unscathed, although he did take a wrong turning at one point along with Dean Hoyle, who also lives in Mirfield.
“We missed a turn and had gone a mile and a half up a really steep hill before we realised we were going the wrong way,” he said.
“But the whole event was fantastic, an experience of a lifetime. It was magical and I’m still on a high now.
“There were people of all ages and abilities, one of the riders was blind and did it on a tandem, and there was also Dean Hoyle’s son Daniel and his friend Harry Stead who are both just 14. It was a fantastic achievement for everyone involved.
“It was hard, and so hilly, but everyone pulled everyone else along.
“The reception we got at the end, from both the Town fans and the Brighton fans was overwhelming.”
On the final day, the riders descended on the Withdean Stadium for a lap of honour and watched Town take three points to keep automatic promotion hopes alive. Sadly, two days later Southampton claimed that automatic place by winning at Plymouth. Town will now feature in the play offs.
The event is expected to raise around £250,000. Anyone wanting to donate can do so through the club’s website.