A carnival atmosphere inspired a group of children with disabilities to complete a sponsored cycle ride across the Downs Link.
Over the course of a day about 20 children, of all ages and differing disabilities, joined the emotional ride at various points between Shoreham-By-Sea and Broadbridge Heath.
The young riders all attend the Horsham Wheels For All club every Friday afternoon at the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre athletics track, run by Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council.
Accompanied by instructors and family and friends, they rode on May 31 to raise money to buy a new £5,000 Da Vinci side-by-side hand pedal bike for their club.
The ride began at 9am and was done in relay stages, before the group reached the Broadbridge Heath athletics track finish line at 3pm.
By the end of the day over £1,000 was raised.
County Council’s Senior Cyclist Development Officer Ed Clark said: “First of all it was just a really special carnival atmosphere.
“The reception we had from passers-by on the Downs Link was great.
“At the end there was a massive sense of achievement for the riders and their families.
“They all crossed the line themselves.
“Uncles, aunties and cousins saw them riding unaided for the first time and in a lot of cases that was something they thought they would never see.
“A few found it quite emotional at the end.”
One of the stars of the show was Alfie Buck, who finished the last 20 metres by himself on a Strider balance bike (without pedals).
Ed said: “He had been practising to be able to do this, and it was a real emotional high for everyone there to watch him complete this himself.”
Adapted bikes used every week at the Horsham Wheels For All club nights were taken out for the journey.
One of the aims was to demonstrate how these bikes can be used easily on public rights of way.
Ed said: “What we are trying to achieve is to get away from the athletics track.
“Cycling is a recreational activity, so we want to get these children out in a recreational environment.
“It was a huge success.
“Over the 20 miles of Downs Link there were only two points when the riders on bikes needed some additional assistance.
“I think it was a real eye opener for many of the parents and carers.
“It proved it was possible to go out and about on off-road terrain and they realised from this it is a very realistic option in future, not just as part of a club but as an option as a family or a group of friends to grab their bikes and get out there.”
County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Highways, Bob Lanzer, said: “This was a fantastic and positive event and hats off to all the young riders who took part.
“Everyone should be proud of themselves for achieving what they did to help raise money towards the new bike.
“We hope it inspires them all to go out and ride the Downs Link again and again.”
You can help Horsham Wheels For All achieve its £5,000 target by visiting its Just Giving page here.