Get on your bike in Norwich with the new Sky Ride Local rides

Reporter Kate Scotter getting on her bike trying out the Norwich area Sky Rides. Cycling on a Whitlingham Lane.Photo: Steve Adams Reporter Kate Scotter getting on her bike trying out the Norwich area Sky Rides. Cycling on a Whitlingham Lane.Photo: Steve Adams

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
6:30 AM

The nation was gripped when the Tour de France recently snaked its way through the country, and now people are being urged to get on their bikes this summer with the launch of fully-led rides in and around Norwich. In our two-part feature, KATE SCOTTER takes to two wheels to discover what you could see.

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Sky Ride around Whitlingham.Sky Ride around Whitlingham.

A series of free guided bike rides have been launched to get more people on their bicycles and to discover the beautiful countryside on their doorstep.

The Sky Ride Local rides are taking place in Norwich every weekend throughout the summer through to November.

Delivered in partnership with Norwich City Council and British Cycling, the 35-plus guided rides offer something for everybody, from those heading out on two wheels with their children to those looking for a challenge.

It is hoped they will help people get out on their bikes and discover the area close to where they live on two wheels.

Reporter Kate Scotter getting on her bike trying out the Norwich area Sky Rides. Cycling on a Whitlingham Lane.Photo: Steve AdamsReporter Kate Scotter getting on her bike trying out the Norwich area Sky Rides. Cycling on a Whitlingham Lane.Photo: Steve Adams

Each of the rides take place on Sundays with some in the morning and some in the afternoon, and they are led by one of 16 fully-training Sky Ride leaders.

They range in distance from one or two miles to 28 miles, and take in sights including Whitlingham Broad, Strumpshaw Fen, Eaton Park and Marriotts Way.

Brenda Arthur, leader of the city council and cabinet member for culture and sport, said: “Norwich is a fantastic place to cycle and what better way to do that than through Sky Ride Local.

“We’ve teamed up with British Cycling to organise a packed programme of guided rides which will encourage people to get active and visit some amazing places. It doesn’t matter if you just want to build your confidence on a bike or challenge yourself with a longer ride – there is something for everyone.”

All of the rides are suitable for off-road and hybrid bikes and a range are suitable for road bikes. They start at 10am and 2pm.

The maps are available on the Sky Ride Local website but as each of the rides are guided, people do not need to worry about knowing the routes and just need to take themselves, a bike, helmet, a puncture repair kit and a drink.

The rides will be led at a moderate pace of between seven and 10 miles per hour. The series runs until November 23 and will be on offer over the next three years.

They have been brought to Norwich as part of a four-way partnership between Norwich City Council, Active Norfolk, public health and the NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“We have wanted to bring the Sky Ride Local rides to Norwich for some time so to finally bring them here is fantastic,” said Rich Hoey, sports and equity development officer at City Hall.

“There is no denying that Britain’s success in cycling has raised the profile of cycling and we want people to realise it’s a good way to get active and is good for your health. This isn’t about people racing or wearing lycra but encouraging more people in Norwich to cycle, improve their health and providing them with the skills and confidence to enjoy riding their bike.”

For more details of the routes and rides, go to www.goskyride.com/norwich.

Are you heading out on one of the Sky Ride Local rides? Send photos from your day to www.iwitness24.co.uk

Exploring on and off Marriotts Way

Click here to view the route
Distance: 9 Miles

Start: Drayton Road car park at Sloughbottom Park

Dates: July 27 at 2pm, August 24 at 2pm, September 21 at 10am

Marriotts Way is a fantastic stretch for cyclists to explore. This route gives families, individuals and groups the chance to discover the leafy off-road former railway track while also taking in Gunton Park and Costessey Mill Weir. Those feeling brave could also test their skills on the BMX track at Sloughbottom at the end of the ride.

Whitlingham Lake Loop

Distance: 5 miles

Start: Whitlingham Visitor Centre

Dates: August 24 at 10am, September 21 at 2pm, October 19 at 2pm

This is a simple route around the beautiful Little Broad and Great Broad at Whitlingham where you will be able to take in the Outdoor Education Centre and the new rowing and canoeing facility, spot swans and geese on and near the water and at the end of the ride, you will be able to rest your legs and refuel at the cafe based within the visitor centre.

Marriotts and Wensum Way

Click here to view the route
Distance: 18 miles

Start: Earlham Park car park

Dates: September 7 at 10am, September 28 at 10am

This longer ride takes is a mixture of paths, dirt track and road and again gives people the chance to explore the off-road Marriotts Way. As the route heads out to Ringland, there are a few climbs to test riders’ legs but they will be rewarded with stunning views through farmland and along the Wensum.

Eaton Park Easy

Distance: 3 miles

Start: Eaton Park pavilion

Dates: August 10 at 2pm, August 28 at 2pm

Home of Norwich’s most popular parkrun, this route will give people the chance to discover the run course on two wheels. They will circumnavigate the park, taking in the play area and boat lake. There will then be a chance to enjoy a well-earned ice cream at the pavilion cafe.

Winding Route to Wymondham

Click here to view the route
Distance: 21 miles

Start: Eaton Park pavilion

Dates: November 9 at 10am, November 23 at 10am

This challenging ride begins at Eaton Park and shortly after leaving Norwich, the houses give way to open flat countryside all the way to the historic market town of Wymondham. After a break in Wymondham, riders will be able to take in lovely country views while heading back to Norwich on quiet country roads.

Don’t miss part two in tomorrow’s paper.

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