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 raise money for charity.
On Sunday April 24th, 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.
Now in its 7th 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 over £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 over 250 enthusiasts meet to cycle the same route.
Starting at the 315 club on Caton Road, riders will set off between 6:30 and 7:30 am. 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% downhill ride into Little Langdale.
Keith told us “Nowadays I look after the practicalities and logistics of organising such a big event. I’ve got 4 timing stations, 3 food stations and over 30 marshals to look after. 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, taking in the popular Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These challenges run on the same day, but start at the slightly later times of 7:30 – 9:00am for the Bay Dash and 10 – 11am for the Silverdale one.
Keith is Managing Director of long established printing business Pagefast. Located on Caton Road, they were severely affected by the Christmas floods and as yet are still not fully operational. Keith (along with a loyal team of 12) have dealt with all the disruption, refurbishments, improvements and the obvious insurance problems and hope to be open soon. Keith said “Yes, it’s been a busy time for us, but the Rotary gives me something else to think about and cycling is my passion. It’s been helpful to give my attention to something else in the past few weeks, so it’s not just all been about the flood”.
Keith finished by saying “So far we’ve raised £35,000 for charitable causes through this event, so we welcome anyone who would like to take part or help. Riders must be over 16 and need to pre book through the website www.wrynose.org