PUPILS from a York school are gearing up for a mass bike ride to Selby - via Jupiter and Mars.

Every single one of the 140-odd 5-14 year-olds in the York Steiner School's main school will be taking part in the ride along the Sustrans solar system cycle route tomorrow - as they have been doing every year since 2000. But it is only this year that they have realised just how special their ride may be.

The school has done some research - and says it can't find any other examples of a 'whole school bike ride' in which every pupil takes part. "So many of our families cycle that a whole school bike ride is quite a natural way for us to raise money," said education manager, Annabel Gibb. “But we’re surprised to discover we may be rather unique!”

Over the last 20 years, the annual sponsored bike ride has become just another part of the school's year.

Since 2000, every 5-14 year-old in the school has travelled on the Sustrans solar system route to Selby each year to raise money for the Waldorf One World project (WOW), which supports underprivileged children. So far the school has raised well over £40,000.

This year's ride will be in support of the Jardim Do Cajuero school in Brazil - a Brazilian Steiner school where most of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

York Steiner teacher Helen Mackfall said encouraging children to cycle was part of the York school's ethos.

“We focus on independence and practical learning and it is so important to show the children how they can travel under their own steam,” she said. “I always remember one pupil who was so inspired by how far he had managed to travel on the ride that he started planning a cycle trip from York to London!”

Deputy council leader and York transport boss Cllr Andy D’Agorne said the ride was 'really special'. "York has a great record for encouraging our young people to cycle but I have never come across a school ride on this scale,” he said.