Hundreds join in Sunderland Big Bike Ride + SLIDESHOW

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HUNDREDS of cyclists saddled up to take part in Sunderland’s Big Bike Ride.

The sun shone down on more than 700 people of all ages who joined in the event around the city over the weekend.

Sunderland Big Bike Ride 2012, Sunday 27th May.'Starting from the Sir Tom Cowie Campus of Sunderland University, St Peter's Riverside.

Sunderland Big Bike Ride 2012, Sunday 27th May.'Starting from the Sir Tom Cowie Campus of Sunderland University, St Peter's Riverside.

Dozens of families took part in the first of the rides, a five-mile cycle around Herrington Country Park on Saturday.

Then hundreds of more experienced cyclists gathered at Sunderland University’s Sir Tom Cowie Campus, on St Peter’s Riverside, yesterday morning for the three longer rides of 14, 20 and 35 miles.

Richard Hood, physical activities officer for Sunderland City Council and one of the event organisers, said: “We wanted to make sure people of all ages and abilities had a ride they could take part in – cycling is for everybody.

“We planned the routes so people could enjoy some of the sites of Sunderland, including areas of the city they might never have seen before.”

One of the youngest taking part in the 14 mile ride was seven-year-old Faye Dunlop, from Silksworth. She said: “I love riding my bike and I really wanted to take part.”

The New Silksworth Primary School pupil was joined by sister, Ashleigh, 14, and dad Andrew, 42, who said: “Faye took to cycling straight away and is now on to her fourth bike. Almost every night we go for long rides and she even wants to do the coast to coast when she’s 10.”

The Big Bike Ride was part of the Sunderland in 2012 programme of sporting and cultural events and opportunities, designed to celebrate the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Joining the Sunderland cyclists at the starting line on Sunday morning was a group of sailors and marines from HMS Ocean. They set off with the other riders, but instead of taking the main route embarked on a 500-mile, five-day journey south in a bid to beat the ship, which has spent the last four days in Sunderland, back to Plymouth.

They hope to raise money for Sunderland’s Grace House Children’s Hospice Appeal and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can visit www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/hmsocean or text 70070 with the message “SHIP12 £5” replacing the final number with the amount you would like to give, between £1 and £10.

Twitter: @Sunechoschools