Rain fails to dampen support for Doddie'5 Ride
Almost 700 cyclists braved the rain and took on the region's roads and hills by push bike on Sunday, for the inaugural Doddie'5 Ride.
The event was in aid of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, a charity set up by former Melrose and Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir, raising funds to help find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.
Since his diagnosis with the neurodegenerative disease last year, Doddie, 47, has helped organise dozens of fundraising and awareness events.
The Doddie’5 Ride started and finished at The Greenyards, home of Melrose Rugby Club, with the 60-mile classic route circling via Earlston, Kelso, Jedburgh and Hawick rugby clubs for refreshments, while the 11-mile challenge route followed a shorter route from Melrose to Lindean and back.
Event organiser, former England and Lions rugby star Peter Winterbottom, was delighted with the support received from across the Borders and further afield.
“The whole idea of the route was, although originally a rugby club theme, to offer a ride where anybody who wanted to come out and support Doddie could do so, whether they were five or 75,” he said.
“The weather could not have been worse, really, but it didn’t seem to dampen people’s spirits.
“Eighty people registered on the day or the ride, so that’s 80 people who looked out the window, saw that rain and still thought they’d go cycle 60 miles in support of Doddie.
“That’s quite an effort when you think how bad the weather was.
“We had phenomenal support from the rugby community and there were a lot of cyclists from Cumbria, Northumberland and Newcastle as well as lots of cycling clubs from across the Borders.
“It’s not the easiest of cycles, although one man from Hawick Cycle Club did complete the 60 miler in 2 hours 47 minutes.
“There was a couple travelled all the way from Portsmouth to take part and they said they would come back next year.
“I think we would like to make it an annual event because the support was definitely there.”
Among those taking part were rugby legends such as Craig Chalmers, Roger Uttley, Scott Hastings, Rodger Arneil, Rob Wainwright, Dean Richards and Gary Armstrong, who all pledged their support and completed the 60-mile route, as did Doddie and Peter themsleves.
Peter added: “At the end it cleared a bit and people were able to hang around at Melrose at the event village and have some food, a drink and a chat.
“There was quite a host of former international rugby players who stayed around for a drink or two and it was a nice, jovial atmosphere at the end.
“The road conditions were awful, but there were no serious accidents, only a couple of grazes and topples.
“It was a nice course, it’s just very unfortunate that the weather was so bad as there’s a lot of beautiful views along the route and the cyclists just couldn’t see them.”
He added: “It’s difficult to assess what has been raised for the charity as yet, but I think it’s quite a substantial amount.
“One guy alone raised £6,000 in sponsorship and one eight-year-old little girl raised £200, and if that’s any indication then it will be a substantial amount.
A keen cyclist, Peter rode from Wellington to Auckland during the Lions Tour of New Zealand last year, conquered Melbourne to Sydney during the 2013 tour and London to Gibraltar before that.
His charity endeavours continue next month when he will ride on a tandem alongside Rob Henderson and Craig Chalmers from Land’s End to John O’ Groats in aid of Doddie’s foundation.
He will pass through the Borders as part of the 10-day challenge from September 16 to 25.