Cyclists of all ages and abilities will try to prove they are faster than a train at a fundraising event next month.
This year’s Pace the Train challenge – first held in 2003 – is poised to be bigger than ever before to celebrate the Tour de France coming to the district in July and will cater for disabled athletes for the first time.
Riders will set off at 5.45pm on May 25, the same time the train leaves Keighley, and attempt to ride a 4.8-mile route to Oxenhope station – the same distance the train has to travel up the Keighley and Worth Valley line – to try to beat the steam engine to its destination.
By teaming up with Cycling 4 All at Bradford University, organisers at Manorlands hospice in Oxenhope hope to make the event fully inclusive, helped by the fact road closures have been secured on this year’s course. Andrew Wood, Manorlands-based regional fundraiser for Sue Ryder, said: “We have always wanted to get the roads closed to allow more families to take part and this year’s ride will be much safer and a real community event. There will be different distances if people want to do a longer or shorter course, so there is a challenge for everybody.
“Even those who don’t outpace the train will have the excitement of hearing it chuffing behind them and seeing jets of steam as it passes by. Tour de France fever is really starting to come to the boil in our area and hopefully this event will add to that.”
Cyclists have the opportunity to take the traditional option of following the train from Keighley, up Halifax Road – a Tour de France climb – to Oxenhope or taking part in the new all-inclusive looped course, starting from Manorlands, along a closed section of Hebden Road to Haworth Brow and back.
Adam Tasker, project co-ordinator at Cycling 4 All, said the challenge would signify the UK’s first closed-road event catering for disabled cyclists.
“It seemed something quirky and different and I’d urge everyone to come along and join in the carnival atmosphere,” he added.
Places in the event, which are limited to 250 people, cost £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s, with all money raised going to Manorlands. Visit pacethetrain. org.uk for more information.