Oldham Firefighters’ Blazing Saddles will be back on the road in 2021 after their latest charity bike ride was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Over seven years, the team has held a mammoth bi-annual ride and has currently raised almost £100,000 helping to make a difference for a number of charities.
Set up after firefighter Lee Cropper and his wife Tracey lost their daughter Grace to stillbirth, the team rides to raise money for SANDS and other individually chosen charities.
Completely self-funded with all proceeds going directly to the charities, the team has received support from all corners of the world including from Her Majesty the Queen, cycling hero Chris Boardman, footballer Paul Scholes and Oldham legend and ‘team hero’ Clint Boon.
Back in 2013 their inaugural challenge was to visit every fire station in Greater Manchester, totalling what seemed at the time a huge 177 miles.
Then 2014 saw the team complete the Three Peaks Challenge with the connecting routes cycled in between.
In 2016 the team pushed themselves to another level as they left Oldham’s twin town of Kranj in Slovenia, arriving back at Lees Road fire station 11 days and 1,300 miles later.
Then in 2018 the team pushed themselves to the max with an epic ‘100 Year Ride’ from Gibraltar Street in Oldham across Europe to Gibraltar just 15 days later.
The challenge of covering 1,600 miles with epic climbs through the Pyrenees and across the Sierra Nevada in temperatures of up to 46 degrees was one nobody will forget.
This summer, the riders should have been leaving for Italy as Blazing Saddles 5 was ready to ride again from Lees Road fire station to the leaning tower of Pisa.
The route was done, hotels booked, meals booked and training well on the way – but with the arrival of Covid-19, the decision was taken to postpone the ‘Tower to Tower’ ride.
Challenge originator Lee Cropper said: “We are so disappointed we’re unable to fulfil our 2020 challenge.
“Our fundraising is hugely important to us and we were all looking forward to helping yet more charities. However with the situation around Covid-19, this year it is obviously impossible to do so via Blazing Saddles.
“Our thoughts are with all charities, who we know are facing one of the toughest times for fundraising and we hope the team can help again in 2021.
“We also hope you will continue to support us and keep up-to-date via our social media channels and fingers crossed Blazing Saddles will ride again to help make a difference before too very long.”