Working full time, running a business and being the events organiser for the Rotary Club of Lancaster should be enough for anyone but Lancaster businessman Keith Simpson still finds time to look after the Rotary’s annual cycling event, as well as raising money for charity.
On Sunday April 24 the cycling sportive named “Wrynose or Bust 2016” takes place through North Lancashire and South Cumbria, raising money for Rotary’s own charity plus Unique Kidz and Headway - the brain injury association.
Now in its seventh year the event started when Keith and his neighbour, John Black, decided to cycle the gruelling 114 mile route to celebrate Keith’s 60th birthday. John was 72-years-old at the time and known as a bit of a cycling legend. John encouraged Keith to get fit and on Keith’s birthday they completed the challenge. They loved it and raised more than £1,000 which they gave to ARC, Distonia and Rotary.
Rotary saw the fund raising potential and the “Wrynose or Bust” cycling event was born. With help from fellow Rotarian, Bevis Mulholland, over the years the event has grown and grown, and last year saw more than 250 enthusiasts meet to cycle the same route.
Starting at the 315 Health club on Caton Road, riders will set off between 6.30pm and 7.30am. Following the River Lune cycle track, the route travels through Kellet, Milnthorpe and Levens to Broughton in Furness before reaching the Dudden Valley. From there they face the gruelling 1,400 feet climb over 15 miles of Wrynose Pass. The descent is no less of a challenge, as it’s a 30 per cent downhill ride into Little Langdale.
Keith said: “Nowadays I look after the logistics of organising such a big event. People often ask me about the first time I cycled the route and I can honestly say, at points, I was frightened.
“The smell of fear is the smell of burning brakes blocks coming down the pass into Little Langdale! I don’t think I’ve ever been so fast on a bike before and my brakes literally melted!”
For those wanting a slightly less exhausting run, the Rotary also organise the “Bay Dash” a 72 mile route and the “Silverdale Sling” a gentler 42 mile round trip.
These challenges run on the same day but start at 7.30am–9am for the Bay Dash and 10–11am for Silverdale. Riders must be over 16 and need to pre book through the website www.wrynose.org.