Hull FC legend Gareth Ellis has become the first rugby league star to sign up for the 2018 UK Red Ride to Wembley for RL Cares – yet immediately admitted he hopes not to actually take part in the 300-mile cycling adventure.
The ex-Great Britain forward lifted the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup for the Airlie Birds in 2016 and 2017 before retiring at the end of last season.
I’d love to do the Ride to Wembley; it’s a fantastic challenge for a fantastic causeGareth Ellis
Castleford-born Ellis, 36, is a keen supporter of Rugby League Cares, the charity which reaches out to the sport’s whole family, especially players and their welfare.
He is one of 20 riders who plan to tackle the gruelling off-road trek between Old Trafford and the national stadium, arriving at the Wembley Legends statue on the eve of this year’s final which takes place August 25.
But, ideally, the former Leeds Rhino hopes not to ride at all. “I’d love to do the Ride to Wembley; it’s a fantastic challenge for a fantastic cause,” explained Ellis, who is now Hull’s football manager.
“It’d be good to help RL Cares raise funds they need for the incredible work they do across the whole sport.
“However, if the club reaches Wembley for the third year on the bounce and gets to defend this fantastic old trophy, then I won’t be able to join the ride.
“If we get knocked out before the final, which obviously I hope isn’t the case, then I’m going to be cycling all the way from Old Trafford to Wembley. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a week of my life I’ll never forget.”
If he does take part, Ellis will join other rugby league legends, ride sponsors, fans and RL Cares staff on an epic challenge along bridleways, forest trails, dirt tracks, canal towpaths and the occasional ploughed field and meadow.
But The Ride to Wembley will also be his second major cycling challenge of 2018.
In July, Ellis will be a member of an eight-man team from the Steve Prescott Foundation taking part in the Race Across Europe, an endurance race from Boulogne Sur Mer to Gibraltar.