. . . and raising money for little heart transplant twin′s charity fund.
Olympic stars and elite riders representing the best of British cycle racing will compete in the North East on Sunday 29 March.
More than 140 male riders from throughout the UK will race seven times around Northumbrian Water’s Derwent reservoir near Consett, County Durham – covering a distance of 140km (84 miles) and at speeds of up to 60mph.
The event, officially named the ‘Northumbrian Water Tour of the Reservoir Road Race’ starts at 10.20am from race headquarters in Blanchland, Northumberland.
Riders on each circuit will cycle over the reservoir dam and the winning riders will cross the finish line, also on the dam wall, at approximately 2pm to 2.30pm.
It is the second race of the 2009 premier national British Cycling road race calendar and is organised by the Tyne Valley Cycling Club with title sponsorship from Northumbrian Water.
And while riders complete the reservoir circuit, local youngsters aged up to 16-years-old, are invited to pedal 1km along the dam wall in the Velvet Junior Bike Race. The junior event is a fun ride, hosted by tissue manufacturer SCA Hygiene products, based in Prudhoe, with support from local supermarket company Waitrose.
The junior pedal encourages families to get on their bikes and at the same time will raise money for a charity set up by a special three-year-old girl, heart transplant patient Martha Andersen from the village of Edmundbyers, County Durham, which is on the main race circuit.
Reporters and photographers are invited to meet at Derwent reservoir leisure lodge, at the foot of the dam near Derwent Bridge on the B6278, at 10am on Tuesday 24 March.
Competitive cyclists will be available for interview and pictures together with mum Gillian Andersen and her twin daughters Martha and Matilda. Both the youngsters will be also be cycling along the dam wall in the junior event on race day.
A charity called the PICU Penguin Fund has been set up after Martha received life-saving care on an artificial heart machine before her successful heart transplant. The Fund has a target of £50,000 to buy another artificial heart machine for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital.
Youngsters who can turn up on Sunday to take part in the junior event will pay £2 and SCA will add to the donations to swell the Penguin Fund appeal. Registration for the Velvet Junior Fun Ride will be at Edmundbyers Village Hall between 9am and 9.30am. Children aged six or under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The event also features the Velvet Children’s Village with a bouncy castle, balloon sculptor and raffle prizes. Each child taking part will also receive a medal and goody bag.
Children who want to take part in the Velvet Junior Bike Race can download an entry form at www.velvetbabymd.com.
Riders in the main Northumbrian Water Tour of the Reservoir Road Race are also raising money for the charity fund.
This main race offers a colourful and thrilling spectacle but those lining the route must be aware of safety and parking is limited. Stretches of the B6306 and the B6278 from the western end of the reservoir at Carrick Corner on the southside of the junction of the A68 will also be closed to traffic. There will also be road closures on the northside of the reservoir.
Alistair Baker, Northumbrian Water’s communications and PR manager, will present the the champagne and sash to the winner on the dam wall podium after the race.
He said: “Water is vital for both a healthy life and for sporting performance and the 1,000 acres of our magnificent Derwent reservoir makes a spectacular backdrop for this major national cycling event which we are once again proud to host and sponsor.”
Tony Richards, manager of SCA Hygiene Prudhoe Mill, said: “This is the second year we’ve hosted the event and it is set to be bigger and better than last year. As major employers in the area, we are keen to contribute to the local community.
“By hosting the Velvet Junior Bike Race we are giving families the opportunity to have some fun together and raise money for a very worthy cause. Last year we managed to raise over £1000 for Martha’s fund and we all hope to better that this year.”
Film shot by a professional cameraman from a motorbike following the race will be available after the event for TV use.
For further information contact: Alistair Baker, communications and PR manager, Northumbrian Water on 0191-301-6851 or 07711-793493 and race organiser Mike Hodgson on 01207-255219 or 07519-565061.