The first Preston Sky Ride got off to a flying start yesterday, with around 7500 people taking part in the traffic-free bicycle course around the city.
Starting on the flag market at 10am, cyclists were invited to don their complimentary high-vis vests and complete the route which took in Fishergate, Winckley Square, Avenham and Miller Parks. A range of cyclists took part, from professionals to amateur enthusiasts and families with children on stabilisers or trolleys.
Entirely free to attend, some people completed the 6.2km course two or three times in order to take advantage of a scenic traffic-free route in the glorious summer sunshine. In Avenham and Miller Parks, a whole host of entertainment was put on by Preston Council and supporting partners for families who weren’t completing the main Sky Ride but still wanted to enjoy the carnival atmosphere. Parents could be found being put to the test at the pop-up gym, or competing against each other at touch rugby, netball or golf. Kids were kept entertained with bouncy castles, trampolines, go-ride racing and hand-powered bicycles.
Jointly organised by Team Sky and British Cycling, the mission of Sky Ride is to get a million more people on their bikes by 2013, and they aim to do this by encouraging people of all ages and physical fitness to take up cycling as a sport, hobby or way of keeping fit.
Peter Haymes, British Cycling Recreation Manager, North West, said: “What a great way to celebrate the Guild year here in Preston, to see 7,500 people of all ages having fun on bikes. British Cycling and Sky are proud to be part of such a special event. A massive thank you to the council and all the partners, staff and especially the volunteers from across the community.”
Jimmy Khan, Head of Sport and Leisure at Preston City Council, said: “Preston Sky Ride was organised as a result of a number of partners coming together to support an event that promoted health and wellbeing. In my sixteen years with the council, I have to admit that it was probably one of the best events that we have organised, and with a final attendance figure of 7500, it is also the highest number we have had attend a single sports event.
Whilst the weather obviously contributed to the turnout, without the numerous Guild volunteers and staff who are passionate about their work, the event wouldn’t have been the huge success that it was. British Cycling and Sky have gone on record to state that the Preston Sky Ride is by far the most scenic route in the country, and we are hoping to make it one of our annual events.”
Check out our slideshow of photos from the Sky Ride, and a video capturing the day’s events.