A challenging 100-mile charity bike ride from Derby to Skegness that puts smiles on the faces of children has grown hugely in popularity with greater early take-up than ever.

Organisers of the ‘SkegVegas 100’ ride from Derby to Skegness have already seen 60 cyclists from across the UK sign up to take part – and they say they have never seen so many register so early in the year.

The charity ride takes place every May and the route this year will take riders from Ockbrook to Skegness via quiet country roads.

The Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre charity is 132 years old this year and pays for five-day seaside stays at its base in Skegness for youngsters who would not otherwise get a break, due to financial hardship or other tough situations, such as caring for a relative.

Terry Willis, who organises the SkegVegas100 every year with his son Aaron, said by the beginning of February riders from all over the UK had already put their names forward to complete the distance on May 13.

Terry, who went to the holiday centre himself as a child and has been a lifelong supporter of the charity ever since, said: “We’ve had 60 registered riders already. Last year we had 39 in total, and the most we’ve ever had is 77. Nearly every day I’m getting somebody saying they want to do the ride. It has been such a success.”

The SkegVegas 100 began life in 2013 and has been growing since, with a new route last year meaning that riders no longer have to complete the distance on major roads but can instead enjoy a more scenic rural route.

Terry said the new route and the popularity of the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre meant this year’s ride had seen cyclists from different clubs and as far afield as Portsmouth, Shrewsbury, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Nottingham register for a place.

Riders are asked to contribute a minimum of £100 in sponsorship to take part which means that £6,000 will already have been pledged months ahead of the ride on May 13 – enough to pay for 13 children to enjoy a week by the sea.

One rider who is taking part is Nathan Monk, who works in the parts department of Pentagon Vauxhall in Derby – a business which has also adopted the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre as its charity of the year.

Nathan, who has taken part in every SkegVegas100 ride so far, said: “I started doing it through the love of cycling. Someone I knew asked me if I wanted to do the Skegness ride for the charity and it snowballed from there. At the time it was the longest I’d ridden – and it was a challenge!”

Keen cyclist Nathan rides his bike to work and back four days of the working week – only taking the car one day so he can do the shopping on his way home. At the weekend he will take himself off for much longer rides, regularly pedalling 250 miles over the week.

He said: “I rode as a kid but once you’ve passed your driving test your bike just goes out of the window. When I was younger, about 16 or 17, I was 21 and a half stone and one day I thought I’d like to lose weight. I lost most of it by walking around but realised that cycling was a quicker way to get to work.

“Years ago if someone had asked me if I wanted to ride to Skegness, I’d have thought they were having a laugh. The first time I did it, the most I’d ridden was 30 miles and I thought I’d give it a try.

“I just find it rewarding. It’s nice to know that the main reason you do it is to raise money – it’s a win win. You get something out of it and the holiday centre gets money out of it.”

Alan Grimadell, chairman of the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, said: “It’s wonderful to see that so many cyclists have already signed up to complete the SkegVegas100 as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Every penny raised goes to putting another smile on the face of a child at our specialist centre in Skegness where our wonderful staff pull out all the stops to give them a great week. Children who come to our centre is sorely in need of a break and it’s great to think that the SkegVegas100 is helping make that possible. Every donation counts – it would be great to see an amazing total raised in 2023.”

To support SkegVegas100 with a donation, please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/skegvegas.