SUNDERLAND is gearing up for its first ever Big Bike Ride, with more than 500 cyclists set to pedal their way to fitness at Herrington Country Park next month.
The Sunderland Big Bike Ride, including the five mile Family Ride, 20 mile River Ride and the 40 mile ‘Tour de Sunderland’, is part of a push to encourage more people in the city to enjoy the benefits of cycling.
Supported by the Sunderland Echo, Cycle World, University of Sunderland, City of Sunderland College and other local businesses, the Sunderland Big Bike Ride takes place on Sunday, May 29, and if successful, could be added to the city’s growing calendar of annual sporting events.
Ron Odunaiya, Executive Director of City Services, Sunderland City Council, said: “Cycling is a really enjoyable way for people to stay fit. Right now the sport is going through something of a boom nationally and we want to make sure people in Sunderland don’t miss out on the chance to take part.
“The Big Bike Ride has been designed to cover a variety of different distances to make sure that everyone, from children and families right up to experienced cyclists can join in.
“Sunderland has a high quality network of cycle paths which are already popular with cycling enthusiasts, but we want even more people to enjoy the fantastic routes available to them, including Herrington Country Park.”
The five-mile ride circles the perimeter of Herrington Country Park, while the 20 mile ride is a cycle along the River Wear. The 40 mile Tour de Sunderland takes in some of the city’s finest views and landmarks.
Andrew Woolley, Manager of Cycle World in High Street West in the city centre, said: “Sunderland has been crying out for a cycling event like this and we are absolutely delighted to be involved in the Big Bike Ride.
“Cycling has a number of benefits, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. We can’t wait for the event.”
The event is being organised by Sunderland City Council and Active Sunderland, a partnership of organisations from across the city. Active Sunderland recently unveiled its Olympic legacy promise, which includes a programme of mass participation events and cultural festivals designed to increase participation in sport and physical activity in the city.
The recent Sport England Active People Survey saw Sunderland move above the national average for levels of participation in sport and physical activity, increasing by three per cent.
Andrew Wood and his wife Kate, from Grangetown, were among the first people to enter the Sunderland Big Bike Ride. They will be taking part along with their three children aged 12 to 16.
He said: “We cycle together as a family occasionally, and it’s always something we say we’re going to do more of, so this event is a good motivation to do what we’re always saying we’re going to do.
“We enjoy being out and about and getting to see places beyond the road. Herrington Country Park is a great place to go cycling with the family, it’s got good paths and plenty of space, and it’s not too hilly.
“We would welcome more events like this in the city for people to take part in. Hopefully this one will be a great success and the start of things to come. We are really looking forward to it.”
The Sunderland Big Bike Ride begins at 9am (for registration). All rides are non-competitive and there are no prizes for first place, but everyone who takes part will receive a Big Bike Ride t-shirt and goody bag.
Places for adults on the Family Ride cost £7.50, and two children aged under 15 can take part for free with every full paying adult. Places on the River Ride and Tour de Sunderland cost £15 per adult and £7.50 per junior. A discount is available for group bookings of ten or more people for the River Ride and Tour de Sunderland.
Places are available on a first come, first served basis, and the closing date for entries is May 9. For more information or to book your place, call the Active Sunderland team, on: (0191) 561 4713, or visit: www.activesunderland.org.uk