Sun comes out for Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride
The sun finally came out and lit up a sea of florescent Lycra as thousands of cyclists gathered in Millenium Square for Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride yesterday morning.
Four and a half thousand people pre-registered to take part in the ride and organisers say many more turned up on the day after waiting to see what the weather was like.
Organisers say that in all, about 5,500 people took part.
Roads were closed and traffic diverted along the four routes: The 38-mile Clevedon Challenge, 24 mile Sustrans Portishead, the 14-mile Avon Gorge loop and the 9-mile Family Fiesta.
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In the first wave of riders were Paul Stadland from Kingswood and Rob Brewer from St Andrew's.
“I'm really pleased the rain has held off,” said Paul. “It's a fantastic ride.”
Also in the front line was Steve Mason who is planning to complete the Marlow half-ironman soon.
“This is just a training ride for me,” he said. “But it's great fun and the atmosphere is fantastic.”
But even the half-ironman challenge pales compared to the what Tony Hall from Stockwood has planned.
Riding for the charity Afghan Heroes he has already ridden hundreds of miles rasing money.
“This is a stroll in the park,” he said. “Next June I'm planning a 1,800 mile ride through east Scotland, Wales to Lands End.”
But Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride isn't just about hard core challenges.
Plenty were there just to have fun including Katherine, Colin and Kai Dee who cycled from their home in St George.
“We do the ride every year,” said Katherine.
“It's great fun and we're really looking forward to it especially now it's stopped raining.”
One early rider was student Stuart Ricketts, 17, who attends Filton College and was treating the ride as a training exercise for a two-day ride to Cornwall.
Starting off the riders was Heart FM breakfast show presenter Paris Troy who said: “This is a fantastic event for the west country and particularly Bristol.
“It caters for all ages and all abilities, from hard core challengers to families with young children.
“It’s not just a good day for everyone, it promotes healthy living and staying active.”
Among the hundreds of riders on the 24-mile Sustrans Ride was the Lockett family from Winterbourne.
Dad Peter Lockett, 49, a self-employed businessman, his wife, Ann, 51, and son, Josiah, 10, who attends Elm Park primary school, started off on shorter rides in previous years and gradually worked up to this more challenging route.
“It’s great to do something like this as a family,” he said. “The atmosphere with everyone so friendly is magic.”
One family travelled all the way from Warrington to take part in the event.
They made the trip last year and turned up at the start in pouring rain only to find that it had been cancelled.
Graham Robinson, a self-employed handyman, who was with his wife, Kath, and sons, Jake, 14 and Max, 11, said: “We were gutted when we discovered it had been called off – so we thought we would come again and have another go.”
They were staying with the Riggs family from Emersons Green. Ruth Riggs, a teacher assistant at Mangotsfield School, who cycles to work every day, said: “It’s good fun. The ride is something we can all do together in safety.”
A few riders used tandems and a small handful of perambulators could be seen.
But perhaps the most unusual cycling rig was ridden by Heppie Curtis, 29, from Kingsdown, which could seat her children, Olivia, five, and Edward, three on the back.
Heppie, a hardened commuter cyclist who works at Bristol University, said: “It’s just such a lovely family event.
“It’s just so pleasant to cycle along the Portway when there is no traffic.
“Everyone is so friendly, there is lots of entertainment, it’s well-organised – it’s a lovely family event.”