Robbie Elliott with Phil Gray and Andrew Robson, son of Sir Bobby

Former Newcastle United defender Robbie Elliott is launching a series of New Year North-East fitness challenges - including a mass participation bike ride - so the public can help keep his Bike for Bobby heroics alive.

Last year, Elliott and cycle partner Phil Gray completed an epic 3,500-mile bike ride from Lisbon to Newcastle, calling in at all the clubs managed by Sir Bobby Robson.

After that huge effort, Elliott wants the public to take up the challenge by taking part in a cycle sportive (non-competitive organised event), starting at St. James' Park on 11th August.

There will be three distances to choose from: 40 miles, 70 miles and 125 miles.

The 125-mile challenge is symbolic in that this was the average daily distance that Robbie and Phil had to cycle every day for 25 days during their challenge.

The rides will finish at Ponteland High School.

The Robbie Elliott Foundation is also becoming the headline charity for the Castles Challenge triathlon, to be held in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle over the last weekend in July, and for the Alnwick trail runs on 23rd June.

The trio of events are an ideal target for New Year keep fit programmes, and families searching for a target to get them back on their bikes as the summer approaches.

Elliott said: "The North-East public were hugely supportive of our Bike for Bobby ride and we were determined that it would not be the end of our fundraising.

"We held a 33-mile bike ride sportive through Northumberland to mark our completion of the 3,500-mile ride and it was a big success and a day enjoyed by everyone from families to more serious cyclists.

"So we have decided to make it an annual event, with the next set for Sunday, 11th August.

"There is something for everyone. Serious cyclists can tackle the 125-miler, you still have to be pretty fit to do 70 miles, and the 40-miler should be within reach of everyone with a bit of training and preparation.

"At this time of year everyone sets their minds to getting fit and losing a few pounds after Christmas and having a target is all-important. By entering our event you can help raise cash for our charity and reach your own fitness goal."

Riders are times around the course using a chip, and volunteers ensure the route is well marshalled and signposted. There is also safety cover and mechanical assistance.

Phil, an ironman triathlete whose experience was instrumental in getting Robbie through the European adventure, said: "We hope the cycle event can go from strength to strength and keep raising money. It is for all abilities and ages and we had the full cross section out at the inaugural event in November."

For more info visit www.bikeforbobby.com.