Gallery: Sky Ride transforms Ipswich’s central streets into a cyclists’ paradise

THE Olympics has certainly inspired a generation if the turnout for the town’s Sky Ride was anything to go by.

Thousands of cyclists of all ages and abilities made the most of the hot sunshine by picking up their bikes as Ipswich was transformed into a bike rider’s paradise after waving off the Tour of Britain competitors.

Around 12,500 participants started in the footsteps of Tour of Britain competitors including Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish at Ipswich Waterfront before enjoying a car-free 5km route.

Among those taking part in the Sky Ride was the Bally family from Rushmere St Andrew.

Vanessa and Steve brought sons George, eight, and Thomas, six, who are pupils at Heath Primary School, along for the fun day out.

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Mrs Bally said: “We waved off the Tour of Britain riders and thought we’d get on our bikes.

“We did the Sky Ride elsewhere last week and absolutely loved it and it’s my birthday and I’m not relaxing!”

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Another family making the most of a traffic-free town were Stuart Kitchener, Cat Harvey, Preston Goodwin, five, and eight-year-old Ethan Goodwin.

Mr Kitchener, from Ipswich, said: “It’s just really good to get out on your bikes.

“Cycling seems to be more popular in Europe but people are being encouraged to get out there and everyone should be doing it.”

Around 40,000 people watched the beginning of the Tour of Britain, which was started by Ipswich mayor Mary Blake, before the Sky Ride got under way at 11am.

As well as the cycling, visitors were entertained by live music and dance from acts including Samboomba, Silbury Hill, Danegeld Morris and Funky Voices at various points of the route such as Customs House, Alderman Park and the Cornhill Forecourt. Cyclists inspired by Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and other Team Sky riders were also able to take on the Team Sky challenge and attempt to beat Wiggins’ Olympic time trial time on a static bike.

Youngsters got into the spirit by donning face paint designs in the Team Sky colours and nearly 100 children had a go at racing their bikes throughout the day thanks to Go-Ride Racing, British Cycling’s entry level competition programme.

Ipswich mayor Mary Blake said: “What a wonderful day for world cycling and for Ipswich.

“It was good to see so many people here for the start and taking part in Sky Ride.”

More than 300,000 people have attended events across Ipswich this summer and cycling will hit the headlines again in November when the town hosts the European Cyclo-Cross Championship.

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