Last year’s inaugural Ride for a Flight fundraiser chalked up over £20,000 for the Air Ambulance Foundation, and on 8 August 2004 the RUSS Appeal and Trail Break are doing it all again.
The RUSS Appeal was founded by friends of Russ Pinder, a mountain biker who was severely injured in a crash in the Brecon Beacons in 2003. He’s now paralysed from the waist down, but had it not been for the Air Ambulance lifting him off the hill he could very well be dead. The appeal that bears his name isn’t a charity in its own right, it’s a channel to raise funds for deserving causes close to mountain bikers’ hearts. The Air Ambulance service, which is funded entirely from donations, is chief amongst them.
You’re probably familiar with Trail Break, organisers of a vast array of popular navigation races, waymarked rides, weekends away and all manner of other bike-related fun. Russ was a regular and successful competitor in Trail Break’s Fat Tyre Navigator events and when a fundraising event was first mooted the guys there were immediately offering their services.
And so Ride for a Flight 2003 went off with a bang, and for 2004 it’s part of an extended weekend’s programme. The venue is once again Checkendon, near Reading and the weekend will feature two separate fundraising rides plus a selection of favourite Trail Break regulars.
The action kicks off on Friday 6 August with a two hour night-time Fat Tyre Navigator event. Trail Break runs a whole series of these, which for 2004 is supported by USE’s Exposure Lights offshoot – test rides with the high-tech lighting systems will be available over the whole weekend, although you’ll find you get the best impression during the hours of darkness.
Saturday sees one of Trail Break’s popular Evans Rides, running from 9am to 3pm on three different length waymarked routes. Then after lunch it’s the first of the weekend’s fundraising events – The One Way Ticket. It’s a retro-themed downhill event on what’s described as a “relatively simple” course. The format is a fairly conventional two runs, fastest time wins deal but there are hefty time bonuses available for using bikes not generally considered as downhill tools – hardtails, rigid forks, cantilever brakes and other “classic” features will all lift you in the rankings. There are also bonus seconds up for grabs for dress, attitude and style. It’s a tenner to enter.
Saturday night is party night, with beer and tunes in the main marquee and an abbreviation-tastic BYO BBQ fired up. Trail Break supply the barbecue, you bring the food. There’s free (but basic – toilets and fresh water only) camping on site so you won’t have far to go at the end of the evening.
Arise bleary-eyed on Sunday and you’ll be greeted with 3.5 or 2.5 hour Navigator races with starts from 8.30am. And of course there’s Ride for a Flight itself, the big fundraising effort of the weekend. You can do as many laps of the five-mile RATS course as you (or your generous sponsors) are willing to pay for – the RUSS Appeal asks for a £10 donation per lap. Starts are every 30 minutes through the day so you can easily do the Navigator race and some Flight laps. If you’re super-keen then there’s also the opportunity to clock up a couple of night laps on Saturday night…
Everyone involved is giving their time for free, so 100% of the money raised by One Way Ticket and Ride for a Flight will go to the Air Ambulance. It’s a worthy cause and a fun weekend – a winning combination…