CYCLING fever came to Basingstoke as hundreds of people piled on the peddle power to pull in the pounds for a Basingstoke hospice.

The Big Wheel – one of the town’s biggest annual charity events – saw around 1,200 people head to Down Grange last Sunday in an effort to raise around £60,000 for St Michael’s Hospice.

For the second year running, those taking part had the option of taking on the challenge of completing a gruelling 63-mile course, which took the riders from Pack Lane, Kempshott, to Andover and Alton and back to Basingstoke through testing terrain near Farleigh Wallop.

Councillor Roger Gardiner, the Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, cut the ribbon to set the riders off for all four distances – 63 miles, 31, 18 and five.

Banana importer Fyffes supplied much-needed energy for the cyclists, while Sainsbury’s provided free bottles of water.

The organisers quickly overcame a slight hiccup when a generator failed, meaning the starting arch deflated for the start of the 63-mile race.

Iain Cameron, director for income generation at St Michael’s Hospice, in Aldermaston Road, said: “I would put the increased numbers down to interest in the Tour de France and the Commonwealth Games.

“The numbers are fantastic, but what really matters is the fundraising and the sponsorship that is collected – and we have had some fantastic fundraisers this year.”

See this week's Gazette - on sale now - for more pictures from the event.