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Bike festival launched

PUBLISHED: 15:36 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:06 30 June 2010

Some of the riders in Great Yarmouth's first cycling festival.

Some of the riders in Great Yarmouth's first cycling festival.

GREAT Yarmouth Cycling Club (GYCC) and SUSTRANS held the town's first cycling festival last Saturday.

On a very breezy, chilly and damp day approximately 100 local riders met at Yarmouth Stadium to enjoy the traffic-free track.

GREAT Yarmouth Cycling Club (GYCC) and SUSTRANS held the town's first cycling festival last Saturday.

On a very breezy, chilly and damp day approximately 100 local riders met at Yarmouth Stadium to enjoy the traffic-free track. The younger riders were entertained with skills coaching and racing and the adults also had their turn every hour to try some beginners' track races.

Club chairman Norman Harlow was delighted with the turnout. “With the harsh weather today we are pleased to see so many new faces coming to enjoy cycling and see what we are all about.

“The youngsters have had an awesome time and it's great to see families riding around together.”

Local Bike-It officer Kevin House was also upbeat. “This year we have quadrupled the number of school children biking to school in Bike-It schools and today the youngsters could let their hair down and peg-it around the track against their mates - they just love it!”.

Ten-year-old Ben Turner agreed. “I have been coming here for a few months and it has really built up my confidence. I have learned a lot - but the racing at the end of the session is the best bit.”

After riding for many laps, young Ben was tired but happy with his efforts: “It's really windy today, it felt like I was going 30mph down one straight and only about 5mph up the other. The fast bit was really cool.”

The festival marked the relaunch of the GYCC which in just a few months has achieved its ambitious membership targets for 2010 and is now embarking on an exciting partnership with local schools.

Norman Harlow explains the move. “We are piloting after-school clubs to offer 10-12-year-olds an introduction to cycle sport and have some fun.

“We have teamed up with SUSTRANS and local coaching company Tri-a-Sport to run a series of schools taster sessions and races in the lead up to the Tour of Britain visiting the town in September. It's free to all the schools taking part.”

Thanks to Yarmouth Stadium, GYCC have the only traffic-free permanent coaching venue of its kind in Norfolk.

“New riders can build their confidence, develop skills and learn to race without the hassle of traffic. It's really exciting for the town. We hope to have Sport England support soon to create an academy development squad.” Norman Harlow explained.

The festival was officially opened by MP Brandon Lewis who, as a keen cyclist himself, was delighted to show his support to SUSTRANS and GYCC.

“The club are serious about creating a positive outcome for the community, especially through their work with

the schools.

“Cycling is such an effective way to exercise and watching the youngsters ride today fills me with excitement about what we can create here.”

The Tour of Britain, the UK's biggest live spectator sports event, arrives in Great Yarmouth in September.

Brandon adds “The economic benefits for the town on the day are obvious, but now I can see that GYCC, SUSTRANS and Tri-a-Sport are working hard to harness the excitement and energy from the tour to create a lasting legacy for the town.”

Lewis was also quick to praise Yarmouth Stadium for their facilities: “I think the contribution Yarmouth Stadium is making to develop cycle sport in our community and region is tremendous.

“Sport can make such a difference to community wellbeing, pride and self-esteem. Without facilities like these however, those opportunities would be sadly lost.”

GYCC hold track sessions at Yarmouth Stadium every alternate Saturday, road time trials every Thursday evening at Somerleyton and leisurely club runs every Sunday. See www.greatyarmouthcyclingclub.co.uk for details and contact information.

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