It's 21 years since Andrew Armitage began dreaming of an annual mountain bike challenge.

He was one of the first people in the country to dream up and organise such an event though now they are organised across the country on a regular basis.

Yesterday, he was all smiles as he waved off 400 cyclists on the Holme Valley Mountain Bike Challenge.

Bikers from all over the country took on the challenges of the Holme Valley on three routes, all complete with some of the most spectacular, winding scenery in the country.

Andrew, a 50-year-old official with the 1st Holme Valley Scouts, has enjoyed cycling for 40 years and is delighted the event which he founded with Tim and Yvonne Radcliffe is as popular as ever.

The route has been changed over the years to accommodate the increasing number of riders.

 

Mr Armitage, an engineer, said: “When I first had the idea 21 years ago there were 197 riders.

“No-one had thought of doing it either locally or nationally.

“Now we get people coming from all over Yorkshire, the North East, Lincolnshire, the East Coast and the M62 corridor.

“In the past we have even had a couple of riders from Belgium and last year we had a guy from Warwick.

“It’s not a race, it’s a challenge. There are three routes, of 16 miles, 21 miles and 32 miles, and the last one is easily the most popular.

“I would enjoy taking part myself but it is very difficult to combine organising it and participating too.

“And, after all, I can ride it any day if I want to.

“We accept riders from the age of 12 and upwards and the oldest person we ever had was a man who was 82.”

The ride started and finished at Hade Edge’s Flowery Fields Recreation Ground and proceeds go to 1st Holme Valley Scouts.

Over the years more than £25,000 has been raised. Holme Valley Mountain Rescue and St John Ambulance also receive generous donations.