AFTER Cumbria played host to some of the world's biggest cycling stars, GABRIELLE ROWLEY reflects on what the legacy of the Tour of Britain's visit might be

SOME of cycling's biggest stars whizzed through the Lake District earlier this week - and their appearance is bound to get more people than ever enthusiastic about the sport.

Team Sky is one of the most high-profile teams in the world, employing stars such as Sir Bradley Wiggins.

But whether you fancy yourself as a bit of a Mark Cavendish or simply have a shopper bike complete with basket, cycling is a sport for everybody and Team Sky are trying to make it even more accessible.

The hope is that the Tour of Britain will leave a lasting legacy in Cumbria both in terms of recreational cycling and economic benefits.

Hosting the second stage of the Tour of Britain could bring a boost to the region’s economy, with more than 200,000 people thought to have travelled to the county for the event.

The route, which took in some of Cumbria’s most spectacular scenery, has long been popular with recreational cyclists and since 2013 more than 3,400 people have enjoyed free organised rides in the county, run by British Cycling and Team Sky.

There are more than 130 Cumbrians trained as Ride Leaders and volunteer Breeze Champions to lead free bike rides for families and individual cycling enthusiasts.

Richard Ingham, 62, is a ride leader based at Murley Moss in Kendal. He takes out rides all over the South Lakes and said: "The free Sky rides are really aimed at people who are very keen to cycle but perhaps don't have the confidence to go out alone, either because they don't know the routes, or because they are wary to drive in traffic.

"My favourite route is one that I have come up with myself called the Grasmere Trail which runs from Ambleside all the way to Grasmere village with barely any traffic around.

"It's a brilliant one for families as it's so safe for children and I get so many youngsters riding up to the front and asking to race."

The riders in the Tour of Britain passed through Ambleside and Grasmere so it will be a familiar trail to those who watched the race.

The sport has grown tremendously in popularity since Great Britain's success in the 2012 Olympics and the winning streak that followed. Richard said: "I think Olympic cycling heroes have really given the sport a boost both on the roads and in the velodrome.

"Riding famous trails in the Lake District that people have seen on the TV can be daunting for people and that is why we are giving them the option of going with an experienced group and guide. We hope that once they have been on a few guided rides, people will be more confident to get out cycling alone or with their families."

British Cycling and Sky joined forces in 2009 with the aim of increasing participation at all levels by supporting elite sport alongside inspiring the next generation to cycle more regularly.

Authorities, charities and groups in Cumbria have also been eager to get involved. Cumbria County Council, Active Cumbria, the Lake District National Park Authority and the National Trust have all thrown their support behind the scheme to help carry on the cycling legacy.


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