THE lycra was on, the chains were greased, the sun was shining and the coffers were full.
St Edmund’s Wheel charity bike ride is in its 14th year but shows no signs of a flat tyre as a record 630 cyclists took to Suffolk’s scenic routes for a good cause.
Beautiful Bury St Edmunds sunshine set the scene at the starting point in Abbey Gardens, as participants signed up and took a look at their route.
Riders took on a choice of four different challenges – 100 miles, 50 miles, 25 miles or 15 miles.
The 130 100-milers were first to set off at around 8.15am, heading out on a return trip to Ipswich. The last to return glided in at 5.40pm.
The remaining riders began over the course of the next hour, with the speedier cyclists able to avoid an early afternoon soaking as the heavens opened.
Among those taking part were the Barry family from Bury, with mum Mary taking on the 50-mile route with her husband and two children, Conor, 12, and Paddy, 10.
She said: “This is a fun family thing to get out and do together and it’s nice to see the money going to good local causes.
“It’s also a great way of discovering bits of Bury that we haven’t seen before.”
Robbie Davidson, from Glemsford, was attempting the 50 mile route and was hoping to go under four hours.
He said: “This is a bit of an institution for me – I’ve been doing it for years.
“It’s part social, part physical and the money goes towards some good causes.”
Mother and son Sharon and James Brandon, from Great Barton were putting in a 50 mile effort for St Nicholas Hospice – but admitted to being a little daunted by the challenge.
Sharon said: “I work at the hospice and this was a good chance to raise some cash. It will be tough but hopefully we’ll be okay.”
In the afternoon, visitors to the Abbey Gardens were entertained by a fund-raising duck race on the River Lark. The winners were: 779 Samuel Baker, £200; 426 Mick Bryant, £50; 618 Rob Neal, £25.
Brian Hurrell, organiser, said this year’s event was ‘exceptional’.
“Everyone had a great time – some got a bit wet at the end – and I am delighted with the amount that we are set to raise,” he said.