More than 30 teams have so far signed up to enter Derby’s Spring Classic Sportive on Sunday May 1 – battling it out for the title of Geldards Team Distance Challenge winners.
The team challenge, sponsored by Derby law firm Geldards in Pride Park, is open to teams of four or more riders to combine distances in an attempt to travel the furthest over one sportive.
Among the teams entered for the Sportive, organised by Cycle Derby and local company HUUB Events, is the Derby Cycling Divas.
The group of nine women are all members of Derby Mercury cycling club and are being joined on the day by ‘honorary diva’ James Baker who is undertaking a year of different challenges to raise money for research into Alzheimers disease.
Another member of the team is multi medal winner Diana Higman from Allestree who has won a string of UK and international Transplant Games titles having recovered from a liver transplant in 2008.
Diana had been given just three days to live after her liver shrank due to auto-immune hepatitis – meaning that her immune system had attacked the organ. A liver became available, donated by 62-year-old Helen, from Scotland.
As she recovered, a poster on the hospital wall inspired her to become involved with transplant sport and, two years later, she splashed out on a bike and joined Derby Mercury Cycling Club and entered her first cycling competition at the British Transplant Games.
Derby Cycling Divas organiser Sally Lewis explained that the group of around 10 women met through her brother’s cycle business Love Velo in Darley Abbey. They now regularly compete in races and events and this will be their third Derby Sportive.
“We are all training regularly for the event and have some great cyclists in the team. Entering as a team is great camaraderie and it is far better to focus your training on a goal such as this.
“I am particularly pleased that the Sportive will start and finish this year in Markeaton Park which will be a great space to get geared up for the ride and then relax afterwards.”
Derby Cycling Divas will all be competing in the 80km ride and other teams are combining their distances – opting for the Radleigh Homes 40k community ride or the ultimate 160km route.
The mixed distance teams include the Brian Moss Foundation Team – named after retired social worker Brian Moss who died on Christmas Day 2014 from Motor Neurone disease.
The team are raising money to buy more eye tracker equipment which enables sufferers to communicate and operate equipment such as smartphones and television remote controls.
All five of the units, which cost up to £6,000 each, are currently on loan to Motor Neurone sufferers around Derbyshire and the Foundation aims to boost the stocks to help more people who currently have the disease in the county.
The team is made up of mainly couples who regularly cycle together and they will be tackling all three distances in smaller groups.
Organiser Emma Watson (47) from Stenson Fields will be riding 80km whilst partner Graham (50) will be tackling the 160km route.
“We are not treating this as a race – just a challenge to finish – and all of us are at different levels with varying experience in cycling.
“Some of us did the 40km last year and have challenged ourselves to do the 80km on May 1. It will be tough but I know we will enjoy ourselves and still find time for a chat on the way round!
“I also feel a lot more confident now I have done a Cycle Derby maintenance session so I know I can sort out anything that goes wrong with the bike on route.
“The great thing at the Sportive is there is something for everyone and a great day out around Derbyshire and East Staffordshire.”
The Radleigh Homes 40k community event is ideal for cycling beginners and families on a circular route around Longford and Sutton-on-the-Hill.
The 80km route takes riders out towards Barton Under Needwood and back to Stapenhill to join the main route back to the park’s event village.
Riders on the 160km route will cover a new route towards Blithfield Reservoir and climbing over Cannock Chase before heading back into Derbyshire, past Repton and along Radbourne Lane to Markeaton Park.
The official fund raising partners for the Sportives on May 1 and then Sunday September 18 is Macmillan Cancer Support and The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
The charity is aiming to raise an additional £150,000 to enable the centre in Skegness to take an extra 250 to 270 youngsters for five-day breaks on the east coast. This is in addition to the 450 who already go there every year.Entries for the Spring Classic Sportive are still open until April 24 so you still have time to enter as individuals or teams. Please visit www.cyclederbysportive.co.uk. Every 50th entrant will receive a spot prize.