The Morning Star cycling challenge is about to hit the road again
ONCE again our very own Morning Star cycling team are taking to the road in the 3rd Edition of the annual cycling challenge that has already seen them raise over £15,000 for the paper by pedalling from “coast to coast” and last year’s London to Paris epic.
Organiser and rider Les Doherty explained: “I’m really excited about this year’s challenge. There is more to it than in previous years. The format has been developed, we have a theme which runs through each stage, we’ve widened the participation and unlike previous editions we have mapped our own routes.”
The core group of riders have already completed some valuable team training by cycling the 150km round trip to the Big Red Picnic at the Clarion Cafe earlier this month and are further planning some tough hill climbing in preparation for the challenge.
This year’s format is a two-part sportive over consecutive weekends in July and includes a two-day ride from Liverpool to Durham and a one-day ride down from Bradford to Manchester.
A third stage in London is still under discussion and the team hope their efforts will inspire London-based riders and Morning Star supporters to organise something similar.
Each stage pays tribute to some of the labour movement’s key battles and honours some of our outstanding class fighters.
Liverpool to Durham will conclude at the Durham Miners Gala 30 years on from the NUM’s historic battle against pit closures and pay tribute to Merseyside giant Sam Watts, one of the papers most respected organisers.
Doherty says: “We’ve designed a 240km route, which will be a real challenge for the team. Even seasoned riders may struggle, especially the second day with the cruel terrain of the Yorkshire Dales to negotiate.”
The Bradford to Manchester stage rides in the name of the Harry Pollitt Brigade in recognising his outstanding contribution to the class struggle as leader of the Communist Party.
The route will pick up on the roads around Oldham which were used by workers who marched into Manchester on the way to their slaughter at Peterloo.
This route is less demanding. It is only around 80km in total and has a 25km section along a canal tow path.
“We have had lots of interest from people wanting to join us this year, and the Sam Watts Brigade was oversubscribed,” says Doherty.
“It was right to broaden participation for this stage and design a route that would encourage riders of all abilities and fitness levels to join us for the day.”
The two rides have been organised in co-operation between Merseyside, Manchester and Bradford Morning Star Supporters groups and have once again captured the themes through the progressive artwork of Hazel Roberts.
The Sam Watts Brigade will roll out from the Unite headquarters in Liverpool on Thursday July 9 and follow a short tribute ride around some of Sam’s Morning Star route before riding on to Carnforth for an overnight stop.
The following day will see the team arrive in Durham in time for pre-gala reception host by the Institute of Employment Rights at the NUM office.
On July 18 the Harry Pollitt Brigade will assemble at the steps of Bradford Town Hall. This was where the cycling communist Walter Greaves completed his world endurance record in 1936.
The group will then follow the Calder Valley through to Manchester, completing the 3rd Edition with a rally at the Working Class Movement Library and a social at the King’s Arms in Salford.
We have a few remaining things to finalise, but apart from that we are all ready to go and looking forward to riding in support of the Morning Star again.
This year we set a modest target of £3,000 to raise for the paper, and it looks like we are well on the way to meet this.
However if more riders can join us for all or part of the Bradford to Manchester ride then we can surpass this target and help keep our paper going for another 85 years.
We recognise the valuable role the paper plays and want to give something back. These cycle challenges are our way of doing that.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the group can contact us through pedal4progress.wordpress.com for further details. If you are interested in joining us on the Harry Pollitt Brigade contact Les Doherty on 07733 266-307 by July 6 to secure a place on the ride.