MORE than 1,000 cyclists braved the rain to take part in the annual British Heart Foundation Dorset Bike Ride.

Undeterred by the heavy downpours, both experienced cyclists and enthusiastic amateurs alike jumped on their bikes and set off.

Participants had the choice of completing in either a 25, 50, 66 or 100-mile circuit, all of which started and finished at QE School in Wimborne.

Event organiser Andy Coles said the Dorset Bike Ride was one of the charity’s most popular bike rides in the country.

“We have had more than 1,000 people register today, which is just brilliant, especially with this weather. The atmosphere has been amazing.”

The event, which is now in its 24th year, is expected to raise more than £60,000 from sponsorship.

Mr Coles said: “We’ve lots of fundraisers at this event – not just your hardcore cyclists – and they really enjoy it.

“They all stop off at the refres-hment stands for homemade cakes made by local volunteers.

“I love it down here. We’re always really well supported in Dorset.”

The ride was a family affair for the Parkins team, who raised more than £500 in sponsorship between them.

Rob, aged 64, set off to complete the 25-mile route alongside his friend, 77-year-old Mike Baker. He said: “This is our first one.

“I had a heart attack two years ago so it’s a charity, among others, that we like to support.”

Rob’s wife Sheena, who tackled the 50-mile route alongside her 34-year-old son David, said: “My other son and daughter-in-law set off with the 100-mile group and we’re doing the 50.

“Between us we’ve raised more than £500.”

Experienced cyclist Hilary Webber from Salisbury took on the 100-mile route.

The 66-year-old, who is training to complete the coast-to-coast cycling challenge, said she had been looking forward to the ride. Speaking from the starting line she said: “I’m hoping to do the 100 as long as the weather doesn’t get too bad.

“When you do a lot of cycling you just keep going.”