Supporting Aspatria’s WWI Cycling Challenge

4th July 2014

A group of teenagers from Aspatria are heading out on an adventure of a lifetime through the World War One Battlefields thanks to Cumbria Community Foundation.

P1040097Beacon Hill Community Bike Club is set to take on the ‘Hell of the North’ – a 200 mile cycling journey in northern France and Belgium – during the 100th anniversary year of the start of WW1.

And the dream trip has been made possible with financial support from not one but two grant funds managed by the charity.

The new Aspatria Community Asset Fund gave the group £1,000 for materials to fix and restore the second hand bikes given to the teenagers taking part in the challenge.

And the Mary Grave Trust awarded individual grants to some of the teenagers who otherwise would not have been able to take part.

Eighteen teenagers and a few adults will be led on the WW1 Centenary Battlefield Tour by History Subject Leader Daniel Gee. The route starts in Dunkirk, heads to Ypres, visits the Menin Gate Memorial, before heading via war cemeteries to Arras, Valenciennes and ultimately to Roubaix along the pave trails and finishing with a spin around the open air velodrome. The toughest section of the ride will take in Vimy Ridge, a significant monument memorial site.

Daniel Gee explained the benefits of the trip: “These students have had few opportunities to travel, many have never left the UK. For some, the Coast2Coast ride four years ago was the furthest they had ever been from home. Previous challenges have proven that EVERYONE needs help and support at some stage and that EVERYONE has something to offer to help others. The challenge is about helping people find their real strengths and sharing them with other members of a team. It’s physically demanding, has required commitment and dedication to train for in the form of both regularly organised club training rides and personal commitment and effort.”

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, is pleased to be supporting ‘The Hell of the North’ – a phrase coined by journalists who visited the Western Front in the aftermath of WW1 and also the common name for one of the toughest races in the cycling calendar which follows their route, the Paris-Roubaix.

He said: “As 2014 is the centenary year for the start of WWI, this challenge is of both sporting and historic significance. I’m sure the teenagers will gain a great deal by visiting some of the Western Front’s most famous battlefields and the graveyards which will bring the scale of the war into sharp focus. I firmly believe that giving young people in this county the opportunity to take on a physically demanding challenge abroad will teach them a great deal about themselves and their strengths as well as the rich history in northern France and Belgium.”