Cyclists clock up 30,000 miles in memory of murdered Batley & Spen MP

The pedal-powered initiative saw its 25,000-mile target – the distance needed to circumnavigate the globe – smashed.

Hundreds of people from across the UK and overseas have taken up the challenge to “cycle the world” in memory of the late Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox.

The annual Jo Cox Way bike ride from West Yorkshire to London to celebrate the murdered MP’s zest for life and passion for community was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pedal-powered initiative saw its 25,000-mile target – the distance needed to circumnavigate the globe – smashed as families, community groups, friends and individuals got on their bikes to reach a staggering 29,348 miles between them.

People of all ages and backgrounds took part in the Jo Cox Way between Wednesday 22 and Sunday 26 July, pledging their miles and following a rich variety of routes such as mountain trails, coastal roads, city networks, country lanes and greenways throughout the UK, France, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Team Ride, a newly formed group from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, saw 65 of its members clock up a phenomenal 3,470 miles over five days, travelling to the neighbouring towns of Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield, as well as York, and a coast-to-coast ride from Morecambe to Bridlington.

 Founder and cycling development lead Irfan Mohamed said: “We took part because the Jo Cox Way ride embodies what we as a club stand for – inclusivity and sharing commonality in people.”

Huddersfield-based charity Streetbikes, which recycles and redistributes bicycles, and runs cycling sessions at a nearby sports track, encouraged its members, volunteers and staff to join this year’s new-format Jo Cox Way.

“We had about 20 people taking part and pledged 607 miles between us,” said operations manager Clare Taylor.

 “One of our group did a really long ride to Hornsea, more than 80 miles away, while others’ cycling routes included the local canal paths and greenway.”

Many keen amateur cyclists lent their support to the event. Steve Brighton, from Ripponden, West Yorkshire, joined two friends and took on a 306-mile journey – with 19,000 feet of hilly climbs – to ride from Cleckheaton to Buxton, Derbyshire, mirroring the Jo Cox Way’s iconic first stage of its regular annual ride.

“It was tough,” said Steve, “and it made me really appreciate all the efforts of people who are not regular cyclists but still get on their bikes and do their best.”

One of the youngest cyclists was three-year-old Bobby Johnson, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, who took part with his dad, Craig. “We know Kim Leadbeater, Jo’s sister and one of the event organisers, so Bobby was very excited and keen to join in,” he said. “I think the work of the Jo Cox Foundation is really important in connecting people and bringing those from different backgrounds together.”

The Jo Cox Way will return in 2021 with its 288-mile cycle ride from Jo’s Batley & Spen constituency to London, from Wednesday 28 July to Sunday 1 August. Further information about taking part can be found at thejocoxway.org.uk.

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