Canaries stars join the cycling heroes at Cycles UK shop relaunch in Norwich
A diverse collection of two-wheeled heroes including life-savers, fund-raisers and sportsmen saddled up for the relaunch of a city cycling store this evening.
The growing appeal and variety of cycling was evident as Cycles UK unveiled its expanded store within Pilch Sports in London Street, Norwich.
Among the guests who arrived to celebrate the occasion were Canaries legend Jeremy Goss, current City players Russell Martin and John Ruddy, long-distance charity riders and cycling paramedics.
Darren Rutterford is cycle response unit lead for the East of England Ambulance Service, which has cycle units in Norwich, King's Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Cambridge.
After collecting a new bike for the King's Lynn station, Mr Rutterford said: 'We use bikes because the modern-day infrastructure of an urban shopping area gives us massive problems getting rapid response vehicles into city centres.
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'Eleven years ago they came up with this idea and we've gone from using a bike with a couple of panniers on it to this proper response vehicle which has an average response time of two and a half minutes.'
The cycle has oxygen, pain relief, a defibrillator, burns and maternity gear. 'I've never had to deliver a baby, but there have been a few cardiac arrests,' said Mr Rutterford. 'It proves how important it is that we are able to get to people quickly.'
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Former Norwich City footballer Jeremy Goss spoke to customers about his epic Back to Bayern cycle ride, while the club's head fitness coach, Mike Watts, collected a specialised bike from the shop in preparation for his own 300km charity ride from London to Paris to raise money for the Help for Hospices charity.
Mr Watts said: 'It is the first time I have done anything like this, so I don't quite know what to expect. I'm just hoping to raise as much money as we can and raise the profile of the charity.
'Cycling has many different facets which we can use. Some people use it as a warm up or warm-down and it is great way of flushing out the muscles. Even for the off-season it is a good way of keeping in condition without doing too much.'
Mr Goss said: 'Cycles UK were fantastic support on my ride. I linked up with Rob Taylor, the manager here, and he was invaluable in the help he gave me.
'The fact that the shop is much bigger now just goes to show the demand for cycling is growing incredibly, and it is magnificent in the way it can develop an individual's fitness.
The two current Canaries on hand agreed. Defender Russell Martin said he was a seasoned road bike fan, while goalkeeper John Ruddy is a self-confessed 'cycling virgin' who is exploring the sport.
'It is great as a warm-down after a game,' said Martin. 'It is low-impact and it is great for recovering from injuries as well. That's really important at this point of the season when it starts getting really difficult – and it has been a really hard season.
'I am thinking about jumping on Mike's charity ride. It is just nice to get out in the fresh air, especially around here.
Ruddy said: 'I'm looking at getting one just to cycle into training - just a couple of hours which will save me having to go to the gym!'
Other visitors to the shop were Norfolk MPs Chloe Smith, from Norwich North and Brandon Lewis from Great Yarmouth – both keen cyclists.
Ms Smith, who is still recovering from a broken foot, said: 'I often cycle into the office when I can. This is a really lovely city and a great place to cycle and it is really important that cycling is safe and accessible. I am just so frustrated that I cannot get on my bike and get any exercise until my foot is fixed!'