Sky’s the limit for hardy bike riders

Sheffield Sky ride. The ride stes off.
Sheffield Sky ride. The ride stes off.

The rain may have poured down - but the small matter of a former hurricane sweeping across Sheffield didn’t hold back hardy cylists.

The Sheffield Sky Ride saw 2,000 people taking to traffic-free roads around the city centre and beyond for the family-friendly event, which aimed to capitalise on the success of the Tour de France.

Cyclists ready to go opposite Devonshire Green

Cyclists ready to go opposite Devonshire Green

Individuals, cycling groups and families all signed up, and organisers will be hoping the ride boosts the number of cyclists out on the roads on a regular basis.

The five-mile route took participants from the start line at Devonshire Green along Charter Row, Ecclesall Road and Bramall Lane, where Sheffield United’s stadium was open for cyclists to ride around the perimeter of the pitch for the first time.

Riders then passed the Millennium Galleries, Tudor Square, the Winter Garden and City Hall before arriving back at Devonshire Green.

The event happened on Sunday - the same day the remnants of Hurricane Bertha brought heavy rain and strong winds to the UK.

Coun Harry Harpham, the council’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, said: “It was great to see so many people out on their bikes, enjoying the traffic-free roads despite the blustery weather conditions.

“It just shows that Sheffielders won’t let bad weather stop them taking part in a great event.

“I’m sure many of the thousands of people who took part were inspired to get on their bikes and take part by the Tour de France Grand Depart last month.

“I hope anyone who has caught the cycling bug will continue to cycle, whatever their age or ability, as there are some great opportunities throughout the city to join a cycling group or guided ride, receive lessons or hire a bike,” he added.

Kathleen Peters, aged 54, from Gleadless, said she had only bought her bike two weeks earlier as a £200 birthday present to herself.

She said: “This is my first big outing – I’m soaked to the skin, but determined to enjoy it.

“I saw the Tour de France – I was waiting for six hours to see them on the hill at Jenkin Road in Wincobank – and I wanted to have a go myself,” she said.

Meanwhile Rory and Emma Webster, from Batemoor, were cycling with their 11-year-old daughter Lydia.

Rory said: “We often ride as a family and have been doing so for two years. It’s a lot safer with no traffic around. This city still needs more cycle routes, but after 10 years we are getting closer.”

And Jonathan and Kirsten Nadin, and 12-year-old son Joel, had come over from Chesterfield for the day.

Jonathan said: “I’ve been cycling for years, but asked Kirsten if she fancied it and she said yes. Cycling is taking off now and it’s good to see.”

The Sheffield Sky Ride was organised by the council, British Cycling and Sky, and was launched by Great Britain BMX rider Curtis Manaton.

Steve Peters, British Cycling recreation manager, added: “It’s been wonderful to see Sheffield welcoming Sky Ride for the first time and opening the city’s streets up for all kinds of cyclists to ride around. The atmosphere has been great and I hope the day inspires everyone to get out on their bikes.”

City leaders have drawn up a plan to boost the number of cyclists. About two per cent of people cycle to work, and the target is to double this by 2024.