WRIGHT THINKING: Back in the saddle

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HERE comes the public declaration – after a break of about 50 years, I’m set to take up cycling again.

 It’s partly because running definitely takes a bigger toll on your knees and ankles once you are over 30, and also because I’ve made another recorded pledge to take part in a sponsored charity ride next year.

 That second inspiration came after a superb day at Durham County Cricket Club when 70 cyclists set off on the Investec Cycle Challenge calling at all five of the Test Grounds hosting this year’s epic games between England and Australia.

 As you may have seen on your TV screens two Saturdays ago, they set off in blazing heat to cycle over 350 miles, including crossing the Pennines en route to Old Trafford in Manchester.

 By the time you read this, they will have arrived at Lord’s cricket ground in London on Wednesday, July 17, just in time for the start of the big game the following day. The man behind the idea, James Bedingfield, said that he “wanted to raise a few pounds and lose a few pounds” and he’s done both in fine style.

 The final figure is yet to come in, but it’s going to be well over £200,000 for children’s charities, including enough to purchase at least three Lord’s Taverners minibuses, which change the lives of disabled youngsters.

 The marathon was led off by former England cricket captain Mike Gatting OBE and you can see him in the picture with me alongside Phil Mustard, of Durham CCC, and the mascot Debra the Zebra.

 Other big names on the ride included three stars of the England women’s cricket team, namely Ebony Rainford-Brent, Caroline Atkins and Isa Guna.

 The range of bikes on display was quite something, ranging from basic cheapos to models which cost thousands.

 Some of those modern machines are amazingly light and you can literally lift them with one finger.

 The bike I had in my youth was much heavier and didn’t have the clever gadgets available now.

 I remember having lessons at school and then taking the cycling proficiency test around the streets of Hartlepool.

 I still have somewhere the pass certificate and the blue triangular flag which flew proudly clipped to my front mudguard.

 My big memory of those cycling days was biking with a group of friends to Preston Park in Stockton and a bottle of cold coke never tasted so good.

 That was a tiny run compared to the great task which those riders have just completed from Durham to London.

 There’s a lot of bad news around, but the buzz you get from seeing people give a lot to help kids who really need it is heart warming and life affirming.

 The best bit will come later this year when we can hand over some great equipment bought with the funds raised.

 Well played ladies and gentlemen – simply the best.