The fifth anniversary bike ride in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox will pass through Northamptonshire during the five-day, 280-mile journey from West Yorkshire to London this week.
The Jo Cox Way sets off from her Batley and Spen constituency on Wednesday (July 28), with Jo’s sister and new MP for the area, Kim Leadbeater, in tow for the whole ride with 70 others.
After leaving the Princess Mary Stadium, Cleckheaton, they have overnight stops in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex – with other cyclists joining them for parts of the route – before arriving in Southwark on Sunday.
Day three’s 70-mile ride passes through Yelvertoft, Crick, Watford, Long Buckby, Great Brington, Nobottle, New Duston, Kislingbury, Gayton, Blisworth, Roade, Hartwell, Long Street, Hanslope and Castlethorpe on its way to Milton Keynes on Friday.
Kim said: “I am delighted and extremely excited that the Jo Cox Way ride is back, providing a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages and different backgrounds to connect and engage with one another.
“The past 12 months has been incredibly challenging for us all, as so many people have been affected by lockdown and physical distancing.
"But it is amazing to see that, despite all the difficulties, many people’s commitment to making a difference has only grown stronger, with cyclists joining together for a reinvigorated ride to celebrate the fact that we have ‘far more in common than that which divides us’ – words from Jo’s maiden speech in Parliament.”
The wheels on this pedal-powered initiative were set in motion five years ago by North Yorkshire business executive and keen cyclist, Sarfraz Mian.
“I never actually met Jo, but her belief in creating a fairer, kinder world for everyone really touched me and spurred me on to develop the Jo Cox Way so that I and my fellow cyclists can help continue her work and celebrate her big heart, generosity of spirit and commitment to bring about change,” he said.
“This year’s ride is going to play an important role in helping to establish a new normal for us all.
"Individuals taking part will form lasting friendships through this shared experience and we will celebrate community in the towns and villages we ride through and do our bit to bring business to local hotels, shops, cafés and pubs as we wend our way through the countryside.”
The five-day ride has proved so popular this year that it is now full up for those wishing to cycle the entire route.
However, anyone still interested in taking part is invited to join the group as a day rider on different sections of the journey.
Full details can be found on the Jo Cox Way Facebook page and at thejocoxway.org.uk.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s ride was replaced by a virtual event where families, community groups and individuals could get on their bikes and pledge miles.
The target of 25,000 miles – the distance required to circumnavigate the globe – was exceeded by 5,000 miles.
The virtual ride is being repeated this year, but with a twice-round-the-world target of 50,000 miles.
Anyone can join in by doing a short family ride or taking on their own personal physical challenge.
For those wishing to sponsor the cyclists, donations can be made to the Jo Cox Foundation via a fundraising page that can be found at virginmoneygiving.com/fund/jocoxway2021.