CYCLISTS in Hampshire can get on their bikes this month – to raise money for one of Britain’s leading environmental charities.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has organised the annual Big Green Bike Ride where participants are expected to wheel through the county’s roads on Saturday, May 17.

It is the culmination of an 85-mile route from London to the New Forest.

After arriving in the national park on Saturday afternoon, riders will be based at the Foxlease Girl Guide centre at Lyndhurst, where a zip wire and other activities will be provided.

After camping overnight in the national park, riders will get on their bikes and enjoy a 35-mile circuit through the New Forest the following day.

FoE says the event will be very different from the huge Sportive rides that have sparked a series of rows between cyclists and residents in the New Forest over the past couple of years.

Unlike that series, people taking part in the Big Green Bike Ride will not be timed.

Organisers stress that the Big Green Bike Ride will be a much smaller event with around 50 environmentally aware cyclists taking part who will be briefed on the New Forest cycling code.

A FoE spokesman said: “We chose the New Forest for the second day of the Big Green Bike Ride because it is one of the most well-preserved areas of natural beauty in the country, and has plenty of scenic routes, making it the perfect location.

“Compared to the mass-participation events with thousands of cyclists that are causing concern in the New Forest, we’re expecting just over 60 participants, making it a very small-scale cycle ride.

“The aim is for the Big Green Bike Ride to be the ‘gold standard’ of New Forest bike rides by having as little impact on local residents and the natural surroundings as possible.

Anyone interested in taking part can opt to join in either day of the event or the whole weekend but must register by Friday.

It costs £70 for the whole weekend or £35 for the one-day option. Participants must also pledge to raise a minimum of £300 sponsorship if they are taking part on both days or £150 otherwise.

Every rider will get an eco-friendly goody bag and free organic cotton T-shirt.

To take part for both days or just one day log on to biggreen-bikeride.