In May 200 riders from all over the UK took part in The Hamsterley Beast – a sponsored challenge around Hamsterley Forest.
It was organised to thank helicopter crews for flying to the aid of injured mountain bikers who – because of the forest’s terrain – can only be rescued quickly by air.
The service has three helicopters operating 365 days a year and responds to around 1,000 emergencies a year across the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbia. It costs £4 million a year to run and relies on charitable donations.
On board there are specialist trauma doctors and paramedics and the helicopters carry blood for in-air transfusions. It is estimated that in the region 50 people a year die of blood loss before they can receive transfusions.
Chris Carr, one of the organisers of The Hamsterley Beast, said: “It was a real team effort by the organisers and marshals. Despite the bad weather the event was a great success and we were obviously delighted that so many people took part and raised so much money for a really good cause.”
Local businesses donated raffle prizes and the event which catered for riders of all abilities was supported by the Forestry Commission and British Cycling. Plans are already underway for another Hamsterley Beast next year.
Organiser Will Weightman said: “This was the first time many of us had been involved in the organisation of such a large-scale event. We learned a lot and are confident that we can put on an even more ambitious day next year and, most importantly, set a really ambitious fund-raising target. We’re all determined to go bigger and better.”