The countdown is on to this year’s Isle of Wight Cycling Festival which starts on Saturday 17 September.
Cyclists will be spoilt for choice during the nine-day festival with almost 70 rides to choose from. Ranging from family-friendly rides to off-road challenges and circular rides through quiet country lanes, there is something for all ages and abilities.
In a change to previous years the launch event has been replaced by a celebration of the bicycle on the final weekend of the festival. Cyclists as well as those new to the sport are invited to attend the Carbon Cycle Celebration in St James’ Square in Newport on Saturday 24 September between 11am and 3pm. This event celebrates the environmental and economic benefits of the bicycle as well as the fun that can be had on two wheels. There will be live music throughout the day as well as bike stunt displays, skills courses and road safety and route information.
Along with the popular rides that return each year, there are a number of new rides to try including the Isle of Pink night cycle challenge in aid of Breast Cancer Campaign. Taking place at Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde on Thursday 22 September, people are encouraged to dress in pink, decorate their bikes and take part in fun games and obstacle courses as well as endurance challenges around the track. Bikes will be available on the night for people who don’t have them.
Also new for this year is the Cycle the Wight Toddlebike Challenge. This is a chance for children under the age of three to cycle around the Island, albeit a smaller version – the miniature Isle of Wight-shaped paddling pool in Ventnor. This will be followed by a ride along the seafront before stopping for a well earned ice cream.
For those looking for something a little more demanding, people can still register online at www.sunseaandcycling.com for the Hills Hiller, Cycle the Wight and West Wight Triathalon. This year the Hills Killer route will run in reverse, creating new challenges for those taking part.
In addition to the rides, a number of cycle maintenance sessions are run during the festival. These are a great way to learn how to look after your bike and tackle basic maintenance tasks. They are taking place in Newport, Ryde and Sandown – check the festival programme or website for details.
Cllr George Brown, Isle of Wight Council Deputy Leader and cabinet member for the economy and the environment, said: “As cycling continues to grow in popularity there is no greater place to explore on two wheels than the Isle of Wight. Named by Lonely Planet as one of the best places to cycle in the world, we have varied terrain to suit both road and mountain bikers as well as a network of cycle tracks which are great for families.
“The festival forms a key part of the council’s events programme which seeks to extend the tourist season outside the main summer period. With so many rides to choose from we look forward to welcoming both visitors and residents to what promises to be an enjoyable nine days of cycling.”
Many of the rides are free of charge although some charge an entry fee or request a donation to charity. Each ride is graded for pace and difficulty to help people choose which rides are best for them. Full details can be found at www.sunseaandcycling.com or in the festival guide which can be found in libraries, leisure centres and council help centres across the Island.
The event is run by the Isle of Wight Council and sponsored by Red Funnel and Wightlink.