CYCLISTS who took part in a popular bike ride are set to smash a fundraising target.

Hundreds joined the seventh annual Rotary Dorset Bike Ride, which featured a range of distances between 10 and 108 miles.

Organisers say the total raised for Cancer Research UK after funds from this year's event are counted should top £250,000.

David King, who chairs the organising committee, said: "It's an excellent turnout and we're very pleased.

"By the end of this event, we hope we've raised a quarter of a million pounds over the past seven years. We'll know once we have all the sponsorship money back.

"The ride is primarily for Cancer Research UK, although riders sometimes raise money for their own charities."

The cost of staging the event is covered by sponsors. As a result, all funds raised by riders, as well as the entry fee, are donated to the charity.

Among those taking part yesterday was Barry Clare, of Bridport.

He said: "I've taken part for the past five or six years.

"All of us will know someone who has suffered from this terrible disease."

Oliver Oldham, seven, joined dad Phillip at the start of the 10-mile route.

Phillip, of East Lulworth, said: "Oliver has been asking to come out with me for a long time, and this is the first event he's joined.

"We've mended some punctures this morning and we're ready to get on our way.

"Usually, I'd be taking part in the 108-mile route, but it's much more important to be here with Oliver."

Another father-and-son team taking part was Joseph Lewis, six, and dad Tom, of Wareham.

Tom said: "It's Joseph's first event - he's done eight or nine miles before, but this is the first proper race he's joined."

Isobel Shewell joined sons Casper, four, and Rufus, five, for the 10-mile race as husband Tom Goatly participated in the 80-mile course.

"We're really looking forward to it," she said.

"I've sold it as a picnic in the woods. The boys cycle to school, but this is their first sportive. They're very excited."

The race is organised by the Rotary Club of Westbourne.

Rotarian Jack Haworth said: "It's an event with something for everyone, from the very young to the very old.

"We seem blessed every year - the sun seems to shine on us every time."