Phil Gray riding – photo Richard Stout
In 2012, Phil Gray, from Woolsington, cycled 3,500 miles across Europe with former Newcastle United defender Robbie Elliott to raise money for cancer charities.
The Bike For Bobby ride between all the clubs managed by Sir Bobby Robson began in Lisbon, Portugal, and pushed Phil and Robbie to the very edge of endurance. They completed the epic ride at St James’ Park, Newcastle 25 days later.
Now Phil is inviting local people to take on their own ‘Bike For Bobby’ challenge, with a range of rides to suit all abilities setting off from, and finishing at, St James’ Park on 3rd August.
It is the second Bike For Bobby Cycle Sportive from Newcastle, a group cycling event which attracted 450 riders last year. And, while participants can challenge themselves on one of the longer routes, it promises to be a lot less brutal than Phil and Robbie’s initial ride.
There are three Bike For Bobby routes to choose from, 40, 70 or 125 miles, all encompassing beautiful Northumberland scenery, signposted and with the reassurance of support vehicles if required.
The nominated charity for this year’s Bike For Bobby is the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, although participants can chose to raise money for whichever charity they wish.
Phil Gray – photo Richard Stout
Phil says: “This is a really special event for me and I’m so pleased to see so many riders of varied abilities getting involved and enjoying their cycling.
“It’s a chance for experienced cyclists to challenge themselves on the 125 mile route, which means heading to Scotland and back. The longest ride also means tackling the same average daily mileage that me and Robbie had to cover, every day, for 25 days on our Europe cycle.
“That kind of daily mileage was incredibly tough but finishing meant so much to Rob and me. Especially after we saw the work funded through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation at first hand.
“We knew how important it was that we completed it, no matter how hard things got, and the sense of achievement when we reached home was amazing.
“I hope that this year’s Bike For Bobby riders feel a similar sense of achievement when they finish at St James’ Park, both for themselves and on behalf of their chosen charities.”
Sir Bobby launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer – including the clinical trials of new drugs.
It funds projects that directly benefit patients from across the North East and Cumbria and which contribute significantly to international efforts and research into fighting cancer.
James Whitfield age 10 taking part in his 2nd Bike for Bobby
Last year, nine-year-old James Whitfield, from Whickham, was the youngest Bike For Bobby entrant and he successfully completed the 40 mile route.
This year, now aged 10, he is aiming to complete the 70 mile route alongside his father John.
John, balance sheet manager at Virgin Money, says: “James has always enjoyed cycling. He’s probably been on a bike since he was about six.
“I was proud of James for completing the 40 mile route andthe ride inspired him to challenge himself with longer rides. In fact, we’ll be doing the Coast to Coast before Bike For Bobby and that’s going to be a real test for us both.
“It’s great for me getting out there on the bike with him. I used to be a keen cyclist but it’s sometimes hard to keep that up. With James alongside there’s no excuses and that’s good for me too. We enjoy the time together.
“We’re both looking forward to Bike For Bobby. The routes cover some fantastic Northumberland scenery, including some of the roads we get out on at weekends, and it’s a great way to raise money for charity too.”
The Bike For Bobby entry fee costs £26 for adults and £14 for under 16s.
The courses are fully signposted and the event includes electronic chip timing, emergency and ‘sweeper’ vehicle support and a finishers’ teeshirt. Please note, all riders under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information or to enter, please visit www.bikeforbobby.com or call 0191 281 0030.
Donate here or send a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN.