THE Stokesley Charity Ride takes place on Sunday, May 12. I have been speaking with organiser Paul Mackintosh.

How did the event come about?

Our youngest son was a very keen electric model car racing enthusiast, as such and as fathers do, I used to take him to the then local model car club in Hurworth once a week. While attending one of his weekly car club nights, I overheard three of the mums discussing fundraising for a little girl called Chloe Brown aged two-and-a-half from Guisborough who had a rare form of cancer and was very ill. I chatted with the mums and said: “Tell her parents I will get on my bike, and do a few miles, knock on doors to try and raise a few quid for her”. A couple of weeks later I received a letter from the little girl’s grandparents, Des and Hazel Brown, thanking me for “agreeing to organise a sponsored bike ride”. To say I was shocked was an understatement, I have been on numerous charity event rides but never organised one. Being honest, I didn’t have the heart to say no, so, I enlisted the help of another cyclist and brother in law Chris Hugill to “put something together.” Our criteria was that it was not a race, it was not elitist, it was open to all ages and we should encourage families to participate.

The first 30-miler was held on May 17, 1998. Was it a success?

Overall, yes it was, however, logistically, we lost a few riders along the way – probably due to the fact we had no adequate route signs or rider numbers. We did manage to find them after they had added an extra six miles to the route! All arrived back to Stokesley safe and sound. Having been set up as a ‘one-off ride’ we received many calls and letters asking for another ride the following year. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why do you think it has stood the test of time?

After the first event, we quickly learned that we needed to become a little more professional and focussed on improving rider safety, enjoyment, and building on the friendly atmosphere and fun side of the event. I also believe that the ride has done so well because we support local, and in many cases, little known charities which are, in the main, chosen by the riders themselves. This is something that we have embraced strongly with success which I know is appreciated by the riders and back up support team. There are many riders who have been doing the ride since 1998 and are still riding each year. Those who first started as youngsters are now adults and bring their children along and in a number of instances their grandkids ride as well.

Where does the ride go and who is it aimed at?

The first thing to note is the ride is on open roads which includes motorists. It starts and finishes at the Town Hall, High Street in Stokesley and is aimed at anyone who can ride a bike and fancies a lovely day out in great countryside raising a few quid for a local charity. There are two checkpoints, one at the top of Clay Bank and the second at the Tomahawk Steak House, formerly the Dog & Gun, in Potto. Riders must check in at these two points in order for the organisers to ensure their safe return to the finish.

Who are you raising money for?

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The charity was chosen following a request from one of our regular riders who himself suffers with the disease. What are the highlights of the route? For me, its the buzz I get at the start of the day, seeing the riders turn up, the craic and the anticipation of newer riders taking part for the first time. Seeing mums, dads, their children and those riders who have never ridden a bike for many years ready to hit the pedal for a great cause is great.

Are there spots that might catch people out?

Indeed there are, the big one being Clay Bank! The main thing to remember is to ride within your capabilities, it’s not a big deal if you have to get off the bike and walk to the top. Some make it, most don’t and are happy to walk, once at the top, it’s rest and refreshment time, which is served to the riders by our local Scout volunteers led by Garry Dunn. The descent from Clay Bank is fast, so riders need to take care. There is a steady – but short – climb out of Hutton Rudby with a couple of little humps along the route, but there’s nothing to be afraid of.

How can people sign up or volunteer?

Visit Register; online (£10), postal entries to myself (£10), or on the day (£12). Under-16s are free, but must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers – marshals, checkpoints etc – can contact me via the website.