All posts by Lori Poore

Ride to Chartres 2019

For the first time since 2006 the Hayling Cycle ride visited the delightful town of Chartres after first overnighting in Evreux.  Chartres which is twinned with nearby Chichester is famous for its “Son et Lumiere” held nightly at its cathedral.  Cyclists were amazed at the intricacy of this show and those who remembered seeing an earlier version on our previous visit could only marvel at how recent high-tech developments had led to impressive advances in this spectacle.

The following day we pedalled on to Lisieux. Although it had featured in previous rides it was until this year virtually the only significant Normandy town where we had not had an overnight stop.  The following day we continued to Bayeux.  This was the beginning of two days in which D-Day was very much the theme.   We passed over Pegasus Bridge with some stopping at the famous Cafe Gondree the first building to be liberated in 1944.  Cycling along the coast we passed the landing beaches of Sword, Gold and Juno and the town of Arromanches. Here a mulberry harbor,  (Port Winston) could be seen. Such harbours, constructed from concrete blocks made in England were towed across the channel to facilitate the offloading of cargo after the initial D- Day landings.  Hayling Islanders are very familiar with these as one block was left behind and remains to this day in Langstone Harbour close to the Hayling Ferry jetty.  On the final full day in France we departed from Bayeux and turned north to cycle up the Cherbourg Peninsular with many lunching at the final D- Day landing location namely Utah Beach.   Apart from the beaches we passed countless memorials and displays related to the brave people involved in the 1944 landings. It was impossible not to be  moved by the evidence of the sacrifices they made.

We spent our last night in Cherbourg with the traditional final dinner and awards.  As people discussed their escapades over the last few days it was clear that we had completed another very successful ride.  The weather had been good, and the route well received with people delighted with the D-Day theme.  The Support Team as always proved to be magnificent.  Unfortunately this year we did have a few accidents which placed an increased burden on them but they handled it well  and fortunately all cyclists involved in these mishaps are on the road to a full recovery.  And once again the camaraderie proved to be excellent.  Many new friendships were made as well as old ones renewed with feedback from new riders being particularly encouraging.  This is the longest running multi- day charity cycle ride in the UK and possibly the World.  Judging by this year’s event, it’s going to continue for a few years yet!


Peter McQuade


Ditcham Park School raises over £250,000

In 2018 as in all recent years there was a strong contingent of Ditcham Park riders joining the event.

Back in 2005 a then pupil, Chris McQuade persuaded one of the school’s teachers, Will Stretch to help him recruit a team of students to participate in our events.  He had heard that formerly Will had been a teacher at Hayling School where among other things he had started a cycling club. Will agreed and then became the inspiration for the growth of a cycling culture at Ditcham Park which has led to the hosting of national school cycling championships and produced several semi-pro riders. Moreover the school has now raised over a quarter of a million pounds for charity through participation in our event.

Well done Will and all those pupils and parents who have supported him.


Peter McQuade is awarded an MBE

“Peter McQuade has devoted countless hours fundraising over £1.5 million (and cycling as many miles!) for 500 charities and has been made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2016.”

Peter commented:


Pete at Pegasus

‘While I am personally proud to receive an MBE, I am very conscious of the fact that a lot of people made a contribution to the Paris to Hayling during the past 30 events and would also see this award a recognition of their contribution’


Chairman Jon Tawse added:

‘With his usual humility, Pete McQuade has dedicated his truly deserved MBE to others. A noble act of course, but as we all know the truth is, that without Pete’s commitment, tenacity and good humour the Bike Ride would not exist. The Ride for 2016 has been 31 years in the making and Pete has done them all. This is an incredible feat. Pete’s vision and continued enthusiasm has underpinned everything.’


He fully deserves this honour and the Ride Committee would like to congratulate him for being such a hardworking inspirational leader. We would also like to thank all riders and supporters for their contribution over the last 30 years and in particular Pete’s family for “lending” him so selflessly



Famous Ride Passes 30 Year Milestone

In 1986, 30 years ago, Peter McQuade eased onto the saddle of his bicycle and set off from the middle of Paris on a solo bike ride to his home on Hayling Island in Hampshire. He had no experience, apart from a few miles in practice. He had no special clothing or saddles nor a particularly fit-for-purpose bike. No one really did what he was about to do in those days.

What he had was a personal drive to raise money for a cot death charity. Peter had friends who had lost one of their twin baby daughters to the tragic syndrome and he wanted to do something meaningful in support. Today, Peter still cycles each year to raise money but this year as he rides onto Hayling Island on the 18th July he will have more than 250 other people cycling with him. At that moment this famous event, known as the “Paris to Hayling Ride” will pass many significant milestones.


Many hundreds of people have been inspired to join the ride since 1986 and there have been some very impressive achievements. The moment the riders cross that bridge onto Hayling Island, the Paris to Hayling will have:

1. Raised over £1,500,000 for more than 500 different charities over 30 years.

2. Attracted many 100s of riders from all over the UK and indeed from 14 other countries. However, Hayling Islanders have played the most significant part contributing huge numbers of riders and provided the vital support team so necessary for organisation and safety. The impact on Hayling has been profound.

3. Boosted local causes by fund raising for schools and virtually all youth related clubs and associations where extra funds are so badly needed.

4. Created several other fund raising charity bike rides including an annual “Channel to Channel Ride” from Bristol to Hayling which is now in its 16th year. The organisation also approached the charity HOPEHIV in 2011 and suggested that with its many years of experience it could help them launch their own ride. There have now been 4 successful HOPEHIV events (The London To Hayling Ride) raising in total nearly £150,000 with the Paris To Hayling Organisation providing the route and logistics support.

The People

Because when it started in 1986 charity bike rides of this kind were unknown, Peter had no way of knowing whether what he set out to do was achievable. Indeed cycling was not anything like as popular as it is today. It was still 6 years before Chris Boardman won Gold at the Barcelona Olympics which many see as the start of the modern cycling boom. The only bike ride at that time was the famous London to Brighton which started in 1982 but it wasn’t the multi- day challenge Peter McQuade was undertaking. When he set out that on the first morning he began to wonder just how daft he really was. Furthermore he was so tired at the end of that first day he fell asleep during his dinner. He eventually made it home and the next year a handful of friends encouraged him to do it again – this time they would join him. It then built rapidly from there to the thriving success it is 30 years on.

There are probably many reasons why the ride has lasted so long but the camaraderie of the event is legendary. People have typically first signed up for the event as a “one-off” sometimes to raise money for a charity close to their heart, perhaps being inspired by illness suffered by a family member. But very frequently they enjoy it so much that they come back time and time again. Many have met their life partners on the ride. These include Mary Burras the surviving twin who met her husband Mark on the 25th event. One lady from Reading joined up with a friend sometime after being widowed. Her friend dropped out and she was concerned that she wouldn’t know anyone. She had no need to worry as she was soon adopted by some participating riders.

Some months later she was so delighted with the new friendships that she had made that she sold up and moved to Hayling, where (naturally!) in due course she met another rider who became her husband.

The success of the ride is also due both to the people who take part and those who run it. It has always been an event entirely run by unpaid volunteers unlike most significant charity bike rides. Even the support crew pay an entrance fee. There has been a very diverse eclectic bunch of characters involved in the ride vent over the years and these have included riders who have missing limbs or major organs, who are blind or deaf or who have been inspired by trauma to themselves or others. People from all walks of life have participated – judges, boxers, doctors, teachers, school children over 14 and one year local MP David Willetts joined the ride and declared that it had “become an Hayling Island institution”, .

Some riders have been so successful in fundraising that they have become one of the top individual fund raisers of their chosen charities. One of these and indeed the Paris to Hayling’s own top fundraiser came close to losing his life to throat cancer. He subsequently entered the ride and 12 events later has raised over £50,000 for a neck and throat cancer charity.

The Ride Itself

The “Paris to Hayling Ride” in 2015 involves almost all riders cycling from Hayling to Paris via Caen, Evreux and then from Paris to Hayling via Rouen, La Havre and Caen. It will cover around 400 miles over 5 days. In order to get fit enough to endure an average 80 miles a day for 5 consecutive days, riders go out during the spring and early summer covering 300-400 miles in practice. This in itself demands dedication and stamina. Over the 30 rides, 24 have been to Paris/Versailles, 3 in the Loire Valley, 1 in Brittany/Normandy and 2 in Holland.

Although Peter McQuade is the only rider to have completed all 30, there are several “veterans” who have done more than 25.

Young and gifted

While the event is focused on raising money in an enjoyable way, with no particular regard for cycling ability, it has helped some participants developed into highly competent cyclists. In that regard the “Paris to Hayling Ride’s” collaboration with Ditcham Park School, Petersfield is particularly noteworthy. From just one student, Chris McQuade entering in 2004 (following the family tradition!) the school’s participation has grown and developed to the extent that it has a national reputation for its cycling, with parents even selecting it on that basis. The British Schools Hill Climbing Championship is regularly held on its drive on the South Downs and two of its past pupils are now riding with semi-professional teams.


Although Peter McQuade is dismounting after 30 years he intends to capture the challenges, fun and tears in a book to be published late 2015 or early 2016. “Raw Hides and Sore Heads” has 60,000 pages in draft and will amaze readers with the inside stories of diverse set of people determined to help their chosen cause.

So, the story of the “Paris to Hayling Ride” is not just another story of a charity bike ride. It’s about a leader who wanted to do something meaningful for his friends. It’s a story about a single event which grew bigger and bigger, going off in lots of different and unanticipated directions. It’s story about how a small community got behind the event and helped it make a difference to so many people’s lives over three decades.