Ark to Arc riders raise more than £70,000

They did it! The fabulous and formidable Arkriders have completed the Ark to Arc challenge – and they are on course to raise more than £70,000.

After four gruelling days in the saddle, the super cyclists rode round the Arc de Triomphe to the final meeting point at the Eiffel Tower at the end of a memorable journey that took them from Basingstoke to the heart of Paris.

The 265-mile journey was an emotional rollercoaster, and no more so than on the final afternoon after cyclist Simon Finch came off his bike just 20 miles from the finish and suffered a broken collarbone.

The remaining 33 riders were delighted to reach the end of the Ark to Arc journey – but the biggest cheer of the day came hours later when Simon, who needed hospital treatment, arrived at the group's hotel in time for the celebration meal.

Mark Jones, director of fundraising and communications at Ark Cancer Centre Charity, was among a group of family and friends who were at the Eiffel Tower to cheer and meet the riders at the end of their journey.

He said: "This was an amazing achievement by an awesome group of cyclists. They should all be very proud of what they have accomplished.

"The Ark to Arc cyclists have really risen to the challenge, and when the going got tough, they just kept on going. 

"The end of the Ark to Arc journey was an emotional one, particularly because everyone was so concerned about Simon. There was a massive sense of relief, and joy, when he arrived at the celebration meal on Saturday evening."

It was last Wednesday morning that the wonderful cyclists were cheered on by well-wishers, including family, friends and sponsors, as they set off from outside the Ark Cancer Centre Charity office, at The Ark Conference Centre, at the start of the journey to the Arc de Triomphe.

Ark to Arc took place between July 12 and July 15, and saw the riders support Ark Cancer Centre Charity, which is raising £5million towards a unique local cancer treatment centre in the Basingstoke area, and Kingsclere-based Bike 4 Cancer (bike4cancer.org).

Donations are still coming in but it is thought that the final fundraising total will exceed £70,000.

Among the many highlights of the journey was the great reception that the riders received from the people of Alencon, one of Basingstoke's twin towns.

The Arkriders took part in Bastille Day celebrations in the twin town on Thursday evening, and on Friday were treated to a civic welcome, which was organised by David Gorring, Alencon twinning committee president. The welcome party included Alencon deputy mayor Dominique Artois as well as representatives from a local cancer centre.

The Ark to Arc ride was organised by Ark Riders – a group that has been formed to help raise money for Ark Cancer Centre Charity’s £5m appeal in 2017 and beyond – and cycling-focused charity Bike 4 Cancer. Throughout the journey, the cyclists were looked after by a great support team from Skyline Events.

Mark Jones said: "Ark Cancer Centre Charity and Bike 4 Cancer are so grateful to every one of the cyclists, and also to the many businesses, and individuals, who have supported Ark to Arc through sponsorship."

Merit Group is the Gold headline sponsor for Ark to Arc, and there are five Silver sponsors – fellow Basingstoke firms Croombs Electrical Services Limited, Excellent Windows, Doors & Conservatories, accountancy practice Lane Monnington Welton, and Neale Turk LLP Solicitors, as well as Epicor, which has an office in Bracknell.

While the cyclists were clocking up the miles to Paris, the team at Merit Group piled on the pedal power on a static bike at their Basingstoke office as they covered the same distance as the Ark to Arc riders and collected additional sponsorship.

All of the Ark to Arc cyclists have been raising money through sponsorship pages set up by Bike 4 Cancer. The charity has extensive connections in the cycling sector and has played a key role in the organisation of Ark to Arc. 

Bike 4 Cancer is a cancer respite charity with a sporting focus. It also helps to fund research and makes grants to palliative care centres. Half of the money raised through its Ark to Arc sponsorship pages will go to the charity and the other half to Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

There's still time to sponsor the individual Ark to Arc riders by going to arkriders.co.uk, where you can see the rider profile pages.

Picture caption: The Arkriders in front of the Eiffel Tower after they had finished the Ark to Arc journey.