This Sunday saw glorious weather for the 20th annual Oxford Rural 22 Charity bike ride – and I was a participant. It seems that over summer there are plenty of fundraising cycle rides to take part in, but this ride really stands out and embodies the spirit of what a local group can do.

All ages and abilities are welcome. Even if you cannot ride, your help as a marshal is welcomed. And rather than the mass sponsorship seen at large charity rides of 40 miles or more, this ride has quietly and patiently amassed more than £89,000 over the last 20 years, all in aid of The Churchill Partners at the Churchill Hospital.

Dedicated mother and teacher Janet Russell set up the bike ride two decades ago to say thank you for her successful cancer treatment.

Four years later the ride became the Janet Russell memorial ride after she died of stomach cancer at the age of 46.

Her vision, on setting up the bike ride, was that fewer people would have to die from cancer. With one in four deaths in the UK due to the disease, the tireless campaigns of people all over the country to raise awareness and fund research are a vital element of that fight.

The ride departed the home of Oxford City Football Club, who kindly supported the ride and provided the venue without charge.

At 11.30am East Oxford MP Andrew Smith officially saw the riders off, and from there we headed towards Islip – passing through Woodeaton, site of the first refreshment stop.

Stage two keeps you enthralled with the views as you wind your way through the country lanes towards Murcott, where the village hall was also open for refreshments.

Stages three and four continued to follow the Oxfordshire Cycleway through Horton-cum-Studley and back into Marston to the finish.

You could take the 22 miles seriously and come on a road bike, but – as I found out on Sunday – it’s better to take it slowly and get pleasure from the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside through which the ride passes.

It’s all about enjoying the day, and my riding buddy and I even left the group for a while and added a climb up to Brill to our ride, stopping for a well deserved roast dinner at the Pheasant pub while we were there.

With views over five counties from the garden, and the famous Brill windmill in the foreground, I would recommend the gruelling climb there – even if you have to get off and walk.

The organisers reported that 108 people took part this year, with more than £4,000 pledged already.

If you want to take part next year, visit the website at for more details.

Alternatively, if you want to support the fundraising this year, the Just Giving link on the website will stay open for another three months, so you can pledge your money to the good cause.

Oxford Rural 22 has a fundraising target of £100,000 by 2012. It’s an ambitious target but completely achievable.

So become a supporter of the bike ride and help beat their target and cancer at the same time.