SCHOOL cyclists got on their bikes for a mammoth mission to Germany.
The riders set off from South Shields yesterday on a 250-mile ride to explore the Green Route linking South Tyneside and its twin town counterpart in Germany.
The youngsters – plus staff – are members of the St Wilfrid’s RC College Cycling Club.
They have teamed up with the Green Route Club, which was set up in 1997 to promote cycling friendship exchanges between South Shields and Wuppertal, which is just east of Dusseldorf.
Pupils from a Wuppertal secondary school made the Germany to South Shields journey last year.
That’s when St Wilfrid’s cyclists accepted a challenge to do the route themselves.
The 11 boys and two girls from the Temple Park Road school have spent the past few months preparing and training for the marathon pedal across Holland and on to Wuppertal.
They have already completed the gruelling Coast to Coast ride from Whitehaven to Sunderland and travelled hundreds of miles, as well as raising hundreds of pounds to help fund the trip.
Yesterday, they were given a send off by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Eileen Leask, who handed over civic greetings for the cyclist to deliver to the Oberburgermeister of Wuppertal, Herr Peter Jung.
A total of 29 cyclists will pedal across to North Shields and take the DFDS ferry to Ijmuiden.
There they will be joined by members of the Wuppertal Green Route Association, who will accompany them on cycle paths and quiet roads through Holland and into Germany, staying at hostels along the route.
They will also meet up with pupils from the Wuppertal school – Gymnasium Kothen.
St Wilfrid’s set up its bike club earlier this year with the help of South Tyneside Council’s sports development team, British Cycling and the national cycling charity Sustrans.
Helen Nuttall, sports co-ordinator at St Wilfrid’s, said: “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.
“We have already pedalled hundreds of miles in training for this event.”