RIDERS are gearing up for Oxford’s first cycling festival, set to roll into the city this weekend.
More than 700 cyclists are expected to take part in Sunday’s inaugural Bike Oxford event, which will see riders tackle one of three routes around the city and county.
Bike Oxford director Richard Best said the event offered cyclists of all abilities the chance to try a range of rides in a safe and organised way.
He said: “The routes take in some beautiful Oxfordshire countryside while also allowing riders the opportunity to see some of the iconic sites around the city of Oxford.”
Mr Best said he hoped the event would be held annually and grow over the years.
Riders – who are all given a medal for finishing – are also encouraged to collect sponsorship for a charity they choose.
Mr Best added: “We felt we could bring a big cycling event that starts and finishes in the city, that would work for all sorts of charities, get people out on a bike and see historic Oxford and the region.
“It also is an economic generator: we are expecting people to come and stay, and bring their families.”
Rides on offer include a 20-mile route for families, as well as a 50-mile route and an 80-mile ride. The event, supported by Nuffield Health, starts at Oxford University Rugby Club, off Iffley Road, with riders departing from 7am on Sunday.
Local businesses have also backed the event and offered to supply food to cyclists.
Cotswold Baking is providing flapjacks, The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys has agreed to provide cakes and Hook Norton Brewery will be handing a beer to all finishers.
Katie Robbins, from Bike Oxford, said she was delighted by the interest.
She said: “It’s incredible the support we are receiving from local businesses in particular. This is our first year for Bike Oxford so it is hard to know what level of support we would receive but we also know that supplying great feed-stations for our cyclists is also really key to adding to the success of the event.”
Mechanics from Beeline Bicycles will also be on hand to fix bikes needing repairs on route or after the rides.
Cyclist Dom Shadbolt, a mature student at Ruskin College said: “I’ve signed up for the 80-mile ride and, while having a good knowledge of the area, the Bike Oxford event offers me an opportunity to cycle out with friends and enjoy the camaraderie of a sportive with riders from around the region.
The fact that it starts and finishes close to the centre of Oxford means it’s really accessible.”
- For information on routes and how to enter, see bikeoxford.co.uk – or sign up on the day from 6.30am.
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