Pupils from a school in South Shields are spending their half-term riding along a 250-mile ‘Green Route’ linking the community on South Tyneside with its twin town Wuppertal in Germany.
The trip results from a challenge issued by students from the Gymnasium Kothen secondary school in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Wesphalia, when they visited South Shields last year, reports the Shields Gazzette.
The 13 youngsters – 11 boys and two girls – will be accompanied on their trip by staff from St Wilfrid’s RC College and belong to the school’s cycling club. In all, 29 cyclists are undertaking the journey.
Training for the trip, which began on Friday when they took the DFDS ferry from North Shields to Ijmuiden in the Netherlands has included the pupils riding the Coast to Coast route from Whitehaven to Sunderland.
Once in the Netherlands, the group was due to be joined by members of the Wuppertal Green Route Association, who will ride with them along cycle paths and roads with minimal traffic towards their destination in Germany, where the students will deliver civic greetings from the Mayor of South Tyneside to her German counterpart.
The newspaper reports that the school’s cyclig club was established earlier theis year with support from Sustrans, British Cycling and the sports development team at South Tyneside Council.
Helen Nuttall, St Wilfrid’s sports co-ordinator, commented: “Since we linked up with Gymnasium Kothen last year and got the Green Route bug, the whole cycling thing has really taken off.
“We now have a very active club, which meets weekly, and pupils and adults have taken part in a programme of rides, cycle training, and bike maintenance and leadership courses.
“Everyone has worked hard to prepare for the trip,” she added. “We have already pedalled hundreds of miles in training for this event.”
Set up in 1998, groups of cyclists regularly make the trip between South Tyneside and Wuppertal along the Green Route, taking with them a special Green Route Trophy which resides in the destination before being taking back across the North Sea on the next trip.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.