Riders take to the forest to thank flying rescue crews

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Hundreds of mountain bikers will take to the forest  this spring to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service. 

The event, organised by a group of local riders, is called The Hamsterley Beast and is being held to thank the helicopter crews for flying to the aid of fellow mountain bikers. 

It is hoped that more than 300 riders from all over the UK will come to Hamsterley Forest on 9 May for a sponsored challenge.  The organisers are aiming to raise more than £10,000.

(Coverage in the Teesdale Mercury and Singletrack http://singletrackworld.com/2015/02/hamsterley-beast-to-help-air-ambulance/)

One of the riders behind the event – Matthew Snowden, from Brandon – said: “There’s been a lot of interest already so we’re expecting a great day and the best possible thank you.” 

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has three helicopters operating 365 days a year and responds to around 1,000 emergencies a year across the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbia.   It costs £4 million a year to run and relies on charitable donations. 

On board it has specialist trauma doctors and paramedics and this month it announced that its helicopters are also going to carry blood for in-air transfusions to help save more lives.  It is estimated that in the region 50 people a year die of blood loss before they can receive transfusions. 

“Because of what we do and where we do it, the air ambulance is often the only way to get help for an injured rider,” said Chris Carr, from Prudhoe, another of the organisers.  “That’s why we want to give something back.” 

Participation in May’s event will cost serious cyclists, £16 for a parent and child and £30 for a family of four.  There will be prizes for the biggest fund-raisers. 

“There’ll be a bit of everything: some of the fun fast red/black routes; some technical single track riding through the forest as well as some lung-shattering climbs.  There’ll also be more gentle rides available on some well-surfaced trails,” added course designer Brian Harrison, who lives in Bishop Auckland. 

“It’s not a race.  So it doesn’t matter what you ride or how you ride it.  We’re all just going to be there to have fun and make as much money as possible for a great cause.” 

For more details visit https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/125349/Hamsterley-Beast—Great-North-Air-Ambulance-Fundraising-Ride