Hit the Downs MTB is back with a brand-new cycle route for 2021. After being postponed last year due to COVID-19, the off-road charity cycling challenge is now set to take place on Sunday 11 July 2021, with riders raising money for Worthing-based adults' hospice, St Barnabas House, or local children's hospice, Chestnut Tree House.
The stunning South Downs course will test riders with its multitude of climbs and rapid downhill descents. Participants will set off from Adur Recreational Ground in Shoreham-by-Sea and can choose from a cool 30km route, challenge themselves to the 60km ride, or dare to take on the epic new 80km distance.
Mark's story - riding for St Barnabas House
Mark Tyler from Upper Beeding, was the highest St Barnabas House Hit the Downs fundraiser at the 2019 event with a total of £2,150. He challenged himself to the 60km route in memory of his mother, Angela Tyler, who was cared for by the hospice and sadly passed away just a few weeks before the event.
Mark said: "It's a proper cycling event, up there with the best of them. The course is a good test whatever distance you take on. The scenery is stunning and the terrain a mix of everything the beautiful South Downs have to offer, from river paths to open rolling fields with some tough climbs thrown in for good measure.
"Raising the money for St Barnabas was a small way to say thank you to them for the wonderful and compassionate way they helped and cared for mum and our family at the end of her life. I couldn't do the job St Barnabas do but I can cycle, so it was my way of doing something positive in remembering my mum."
Steve's story - riding for Chestnut Tree House
Steve Torricelli from Worthing, cycled the 30km route in 2019 with his son, Dan. "It was an amazing challenge for us to do together", Steve said. "We offered each other support along the way and we made some cracking memories together".
The pair chose to take on the challenge for Chestnut Tree House to say thank you for the care and support they have received as a family, and to give something back to the charity which is predominately donor funded.
Steve's daughter, Becca, now in her early 20s, was one of the first children to receive care from the children's hospice when it first opened its doors in 2003, and Steve is clear that the support she received over the years has helped to make her the strong young woman that she is today.
Becca has spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that affects 1 in 8,000 people. Her condition impacts her mobility, swallowing and respiratory system and she has always been in a wheelchair.
"Hit the Downs was amazing, in part due to all of the volunteers who helped out on the day. It was very well organised, we really enjoyed the route, and it was impressive from the start to finish line. If you're thinking about taking on the challenge this year, just make sure you train hard - cycling off-road is harder than I thought!".
Hit the Downs MTB 2021 is protected by the hospices' COVID-19 promise, meaning that you can register with confidence and know that your safety is paramount. Find out more about the event and sign up at: www.hitthedowns.org.uk