John Penrose MP puts wheels in motion for The Great Weston Ride

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John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare and Minister for Tourism and Heritage launched The Great Weston Ride 2011, one of the most scenic and exciting challenge bike rides to wheel its way into the South West, on Friday.

Mr Penrose was joined by local cycling enthusiast, 78 year old Pat Ashford, at Weston-super-Mare seafront to call on people across Avon and Somerset to sign up for the ride, which is being held in support of The Prostate Cancer Charity.

The 56 mile bike ride, in its second year and taking place on Sunday 17 July, will start in Long Ashton in Bristol and run through the Mendips and across the Somerset Levels, before finishing beside the sea in Weston-super-Mare.

Pat, a retired secretary, was inspired to sign up for the event and fundraise for the Charity as her husband Mike, 75, was diagnosed and successfully treated for prostate cancer five years ago.

Pat, of Uphill Road South, said: "I have been cycling for most of my life and started getting out on my bike to do long distance routes when I retired. I've cycled from Land's End to John O'Groat's and from London to Paris, so when I read about The Great Weston ride, I didn't hesitate to sign up. Then when I looked more closely and saw the ride was in partnership with the Charity, I just knew I had to fundraise as well. Thankfully, Mike was successfully treated, but unfortunately not all men are, which is why I'm doing my bit to raise what I can. "

Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose added: "The Great Weston Ride has proved a roaring success and is a great way for everyone to get together with their friends and family to have fun and get fit. I'd like to encourage everyone, no matter what their age or fitness level, to dust off their bikes and get involved this year and help raise vital funds for The Prostate Cancer Charity."

Event organiser, Darren McKimm, said: "My idea to develop a mass-participation ride in the South West was born out of a huge personal interest in cycling. I've done the London-Brighton ride and really just wanted to improve on that with a route closer to home. The Great Weston Ride is an exhilarating route and I would encourage people to get involved and show their support for the Charity."

Katie Robbins, Project Manager at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "We are grateful to Mr Penrose MP for helping us to put this cycling challenge, as well as this disease, on the map. Prostate cancer kills one man every hour in the UK. By getting on their bikes in The Great Weston event, people will not only have a great ride, but will help the Charity to continue its work into research, campaign and providing the support men and their families need. Launching the ride this week is particularly timely as it is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Our thanks go to Darren and the rest of the team for organising such a great event. "

To sign up for The Great Weston Ride and find out more information visit http://www.greatwestonride.com/