PICTURE GALLERY: Cots for Tots charity cyclists feel the heat in ride to Norwich
Cyclists were not deterred by temperatures quite literally hotter than July as more than 1,000 charity fundraisers completed a 77-mile ride from Cambridge to Norwich.
Lycra-clad club riders were the first to appear in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital shortly before noon today ahead of a weary procession of fun cyclists, many declaring it was the furthest they had ever ridden.
Sunburn and dripping sweat were signs of the remarkably unseasonal weather they had endured on their long haul across the Fens.
The inaugural ride, which started on Midsummer Common in Cambridge, was organised by the hospital to raise funds towards its �500,000 Cots for Tots appeal.
Its target is to increase the number of cots in the neo-natal intensive care unit where critically ill and premature babies are looked after from 28 to 32.
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Delighted fundraising manager Beth Coley said: 'We were hoping for 500 riders on the first ride and were very pleased that 870 had signed up by yesterday.
'But the wonderful weather has brought even more cyclists out and we are confident more than 1,000 people started.'
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She said a lot of cyclists had augmented their entry fee by collecting sponsorship too.
'There are not many rides locally like this and it has been very well supported,' she said.
Kelly Davis, 32, a ward sister at the hospital, cycled all the way with her friend and work colleague Claire Martin, 36, a physio.
Andrew Bell, 60, of College Road, Norwich, confessed he is used to hot conditions as he is the boss of Norwich-based Linzers Bakery.
He said: 'I have been cycling for years and wanted to try out my new bike; the event has been fantastic but it was very hot towards the end and I was suffering a bit of cramp in the last five miles.'
Adrian Dunham, who runs the Haircutters salon in Waterloo Road, Norwich, with his wife Mandy, was joined on the route by his brother Anthony and four friends.
Through the salon, they had adopted the breast cancer charity Keeping Abreast and their efforts would have raised �2,000 for the cause, in addition to their entry fees going to Cots for Tots.
He said: 'Five of the guys only took up cycling this year and had never done this sort of distance in one go.
'They only took it up to lose a bit of weight, but now we are all hooked and I am sure we will be entering future events.'
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