More than 1,100 cyclists saddled up on Sunday for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth’s thrilling Tour de Moor challenge across Dartmoor, conquering craggy kilometres and raising funds for the charity’s compassionate end of life care.
In glorious sunshine, the community-spirited riders of all ages and abilities proudly donned their azure branded T-shirts to turn the moor blue in support of the vital services St Luke’s provides for local families affected by terminal illness.
Negotiating the rugged wilds of the moor, 686 participants pitted their two-wheel skills against the toughest, hill-filled terrain for 52km, while 237 took it down a gear for the brand new 33km Granite and Gears Cycle Trail route, and another 138 opted for a gentler, family-friendly 11km ride along the tarmac paths of Drake’s Trail.
One of St Luke’s flagship annual events, every £1,000 raised by Tour de Moor represents a full package of specialist care at home, free of charge, for one patient and their family on the charity’s patch which reaches across Plymouth and out to more rural areas around Tavistock, Dartmoor and the South Hams.
In previous years it’s often been a battle of mud, along with the sweat and gears, but apart from a few splashy puddles this year’s challenge was more about keeping hydrated in unusually warm temperatures above 20C.
Amid the throng of keen riders were many taking part to pay tribute to a loved one who was looked after by St Luke’s at the end of their life.
Taking on the 33km was Sam Downing, 37, cycling in memory of his dad, Trevor Downing from Plympton, and his cousin David Lawrence from Bigbury, who both received care from St Luke’s nursing teams, as well as friend Godfrey Jay from Cornwall, all of whom died quite recently.
“It’s all about doing something to give back to the people who helped care for them,” said Sam, who raised more than £200 in sponsorship and was riding alongside work colleague Rhys.
“My cousin David passed away just about a month ago and this would have been his 34th birthday, so it feels good to be able to do Tour de Moor today. He had care from St Luke’s at home.
“Dad had prostate cancer and he was in and out of St Luke’s at Turnchapel two or three times in the last six months of his life.”
Possibly the youngest rider confidently braving the 33km route – and certainly one of the event’s biggest fundraisers – was George Lake, aged eight, from Tavistock. His total topped £1,000 thanks to sponsorship from family, friends and other generous donors, including local company DCUK.
Dad, Matthew, who was pedaling the miles with his son, said: “George decided he wanted to do a charity cycle ride. We are lucky not to have needed St Luke’s care, but it’s a cause that is so well known and respected locally that we wanted to support its services.”
Mum, Anna, added: “We see St Luke’s cars out visiting people in our area and we know in years to come our family may need them.”
Teenagers Emily Wragg, 14, and brother Ben, 17, rode with their dad Gareth, in memory of their Nanny, Anne Briggs, and had totted up more than £300 in sponsorship.
Ben said: “St Luke’s helped our Nan out a lot at home at the end of her life and we wanted to do something to help St Luke’s.”
Making it a fun-filled family day out on the gentler 11km route along Drakes Trail for the second year running were the Rixons from Sherford.
Alfie, aged five, and his sister, Annabel, eight, were joined by their intrepid teddy bears Green Bow and Pink Bow, and their dad, Edward.
He said: “I do Tour de Moor and Men’s Day Out every year and would usually cycle the 33km route, but these two aren’t quite big enough yet, although they’ve been riding bikes since they were very young and could do it easily!”
Shane Darwood and his four-year-old rescue cocker spaniel Jess were both having a blast negotiating the moors on his e-bike – a popular choice for the slightly less energetic cyclists. He said: “What a day for it. Absolutely beautiful!”
St Luke’s Head of Fundraising, Penny Hannah, said: “I think this year’s Tour de Moor has been really special because times are tough for a lot of people. That almost 1200 riders still made sure they came out to support St Luke’s work in the community is incredible. Every single one of them should feel proud that they are helping us to keep our services running for the people who need us.
“Of course, we could not have put on something of this scale without our sponsors Print Copy Scan. Huge thanks to them and to everyone who took part in this year’s challenge, plus our army of volunteers, Dartmoor National Park, Maristow Estate, David May Motor Services, The Hire Shop, Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Response and Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team. You have all done your community proud!”
Register your interest for Tour de Moor 2024.