DESPITE heavy rain and strong gales, cyclists managed to stay upbeat and smiling today as they completed the Tour de Gwent charity bike ride.

More than 500 cyclists completed the bike race which was organised by St David’s Hospice Care.

The charity race saw riders set off on either a 74, 36 or 24 mile circular course beginning from Rougemont School, Newport, at 8am as rain hammered down and strong winds blew.

John Burns, who photographed the bike riders on behalf of St David’s Hospice Care, said despite the weather the event went well.

He said: “I have been very surprised with how everybody is still upbeat. It is obviously people who have a passion for cycling and they enjoy it. When they finished and they shake your hand the water’s coming out of their gloves.”

After the race, volunteers were on hand to offer cyclists burgers and sausages from the barbecue, a visit to the massage room or a cup of tea.

The longest route, at 74 miles, went up through Cwmbran, west by Llanbadoc to Monmouth before looping down to Chepstow and back to Newport.

Riders took to Twitter to express the difficult cycling conditions. Louise Cooney, from Newport, said after completing the race: “Hard ride in horrendous conditions but all for a good cause.”

Dan Whaites, another rider from Newport, said: “I think they call that a character building ride. 4.5 hours in the wet and wind.”