LIFESAVING medics from the Great North Air Ambulance Service were amongst the hundreds of exhausted but ecstatic cyclists who crossed the finish line of the Hamsterley Beast mountain bike challenge in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham this weekend.
The mountain bikers battled calf-torturing climbs and exhilarating descents in punishingly muddy conditions to complete the immense sportive, which this year included a behemoth 66.6-mile route alongside the already challenging 20 and 40-mile options.
Dr Jeff Doran, Dr Andrew Barrington and paramedic Jamie Walsh from the Great North Air Ambulance Service saddled up to take on the troublesome terrain.
Speaking after the challenge, Mr Walsh said: “What a fantastic day doing the 40-mile Hamsterley Beast challenge. There’s nothing better than riding bikes with my mates in the sun for the greatest of causes, even if I am a little biased!
“Great work again from Brian Harrison, Ian Tate, Jerry Tatton, Michelle Haigh and the rest of the guys and girls that organise this event. They are something else."
He added: “We airlift many cyclists from country roads and remote locations such as forests. The helicopter is vital in getting severely injured patients to hospital quickly and this event helps us to fund those missions.”
The annual Hamsterley Beast began in 2015 and to date has raised a staggering £60,000 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
The entry fee and profits from photography sales will be donated to the charity, while cycling holiday specialists Saddle Skedaddle are offering a prize to the person who collects the highest sponsorship.
The money is continuing to roll in, and the final total will be revealed once all the sponsorship has been handed over.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service is funded entirely by donations. Last year, it needed to raise £5.1m to survive. You can still show your support for the Hamsterley Beast riders by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/gnaa/hamsterley-beast-2018.