Big event takes a spin around Sunderland

The Sunderland Council Big Bike Ride 2016 wheels away from Sunderland University's St Peter's Campus after being started by the Mayor of Sunderland, Alan Emerson
The Sunderland Council Big Bike Ride 2016 wheels away from Sunderland University's St Peter's Campus after being started by the Mayor of Sunderland, Alan Emerson
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A Tour de Wearside saw hundreds of cyclists ignore the rain and set out on a series of rides around the city.

Sunderland Big Bike Ride took families on a 5-mile route, while more experienced riders set out on 20 mile and 30 mile trails - all starting at the same time from the St Peter’s Campus of Sunderland University today.

Sunderland's mayor Alan Emerson starts the event.

Sunderland's mayor Alan Emerson starts the event.

The event is part of Active Sunderland’s programme of sporting events, which are being staged throughout the summer.

The ride saw 300 people take part, taking the total number of competitors since its launch four years ago to 2,000.

Victoria French, event co-ordinator, said: “It’s been a bit disappointing with the weather, but people have still turned out, which is great.

“Cyclists are a hardened group of people and a little bit of rain is not going to put them off.

Cyclists are a hardened group of people and a little bit of rain is not going to put them off.

Victoria French, Active Sunderland

“The people who went on the family ride were all smiling when they came back in first and loved picking up their goodie bags and medals.

“Active Sunderland aims to help people become more active with help and support and our three events provide them with that and anybody can come along and take part.”

The event was supported by a team of 25 volunteers, with Tesco handing out free fruit and providing the bags used to contain the goodies handed over to people as they passed over the finishing line.

Among them was Ann Walsh, 50, a pharmacist from Roker, who completed the 20mile route, which saw cyclists take in a ride along both sides of the River Wear.

The cyclists pass over the starting line.

The cyclists pass over the starting line.

She said: “I’ve done it for the last few years and I’m not happy about the weather, but to be fair, it’s better doing it in the wet than the heat and a little bit of mud doesn’t bother me.

“It’s the first time I’ve been on my bike in 10 months and we went all the way along to Fatfield and back.”

Those who completed the 30mile ride carried on from Washington to Fenchouses through to Hetton, the countryside between Seaton and Murton, Ryhope, Gilley Law , Plains Farm, the outskirts of the city centre and then across the Queen Alexandra Bridge before rejoining a path along the river.

Also offering support to the day were Live Life Well, Headway Wearside, Reynolds Outdoors and Sustans.

One of the competitors of Sunderland's Big Ride.

One of the competitors of Sunderland's Big Ride.

A toddler zone was set up and backed by Yoga Pupz, Jittabugs and Hooray Soft Play, with a balance bike challenge, face painting and arts and crafts set up.

Families could also take part in swingball games, hula hooping, tug of war and mini golf, with a smoothie bike using pedal power to wizz up fruit drinks.

A sport section also gave people the chance to try out more cycle challenges and a football kickabout, take part in tasks set up by Sunderland Rugby Football Club, Fencing North East and Washington Fencing Club and Sunderland Handball, with sports massages on offer.

Active Sunderland held a Big mini run in April and is now preparing to hold the Big Walk on Sunday, September 25, at Herrington County Park.

It will also hold Area Sports Festivals to celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For more details visit www.activesunderland.org.uk.