A HOMELESSNESS charity aims to sign up hundreds of cyclists for its first London to Oxford bike ride.

St Mungo’s – which runs housing projects in Oxford and West Oxfordshire – is hoping to raise more than £40,000 with the 60-mile challenge that takes riders through the countryside.

In Oxford, two projects provide housing support for 17 residents tackling substance abuse, and in West Oxfordshire a housing scheme supports 29 younger homeless people.

Jess Willsher, Oxfordshire services manager for St Mungo’s, said: “We want to encourage lots of people to sign up and reach that target of £40,000. It is vital to our work in Oxfordshire.

“Our projects provide housing support for adults recovering from drug dependency to help them rebuild their lives, and we are helping them move on to their own homes. Without fundraising we cannot do that.

“People have the image of Oxford and the universities, but there are a lot of vulnerable people who need help to get their lives back on track.”

The bike ride starts at Gunnersbury Park, West London, and travels through Fulmer and Burnham Beeches before stopping for lunch at Marlow.

The route will then take the cyclists over the Chilterns, through Christmas Common and Chalgrove to finish at Oxpens Meadow, Oxford, where there will be live music and refreshments.

The route is suitable for regular cyclists who are reasonably fit.

Ms Willsher said: “Cycling is on the up and it is going to be a great fun way of raising money for us. There will be some lovely countryside to ride through and as far as I am aware it will be relatively flat.

“We will have a welcome party at the end of the day and celebrate everyone’s achievement.”

Russell Benson, St Mungo’s fundraising co-ordinator, said: “This event is new for us and it’s especially exciting as it’s our first challenge event in Oxford.

“Money raised will help our work supporting thousands of homeless people make positive life changes each year.”

Transport will be provided for £24 per person to take riders from Oxford to the start line in west London.

Individual riders can take part for £18.50, or £17.50 per person for a group of six or more.