We really are lucky for the quality and diversity of cycling in the Peak District.
If you are a toddler taking those first uncertain moves on your stabilised bike, a family out together for a day in the country or one of the World’s elite cyclists, the Peak District will meet your cycling needs. Over the coming year we’ll see some exciting new developments on our trails. And the World’s attention will focus on us, with our ‘moment to shine’, as the elite sports cyclists visit the Peak District for the World’s most famous cycle race and the biggest annual sporting event on the planet – the Tour de France.
‘Le Tour’ will mainly be in Yorkshire, indeed over 400 kilometres of days 1 and 2 of the ‘Grand Départ’ will follow the country roads and city streets of our neighbouring county. But over 30 kilometres will be in the Peak District National Park on 6 July and, for a few minutes, the peloton will rush through the Dark Peak of the Derbyshire countryside before it returns to Yorkshire for a big finish in Sheffield. We’re planning a ‘Summer of Cycling’ for the Peak District in 2014 with some more exciting announcements to come in the autumn. But you don’t need to wait until next year as we have some great cycling planned for this year too. This September, we will be staging the first ever Peak District Cycling Festival.
Patron of the Cycle Festival, UK Olympian and Derbyshire Sports Personality of the Year Annie Last is very excited about the huge range of events on offer “The first-ever Peak District Cycling Festival is a fabulous opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy fun, fitness and fresh air surrounded by some of the UK’s most breathtaking landscapes”. The festival is launched at the YHA Losehill Hall, Castleton on Saturday 7 September. There follows over 60 events in just over a week.
The festival has some easy rides and lots to interest those who are new to cycling or rather shaky on two wheels. Indeed, there will be a number of guided rides for beginners and introductions to mountain-biking and workshops to learn basic bike maintenance and safety. For the more confident, you can join some easy and moderate guided trail rides that will take you to some places you may not know, including lesser known parts of Derbyshire and some ‘hidden’ routes that can be reached from the better-known trails.
A big feature of the festival will be celebrating the close relation between the cities and the Peak District with rides from Sheffield, Stoke and Chesterfield. We’ll also be celebrating local culture, with cycle trips to breweries and cheese factories. I guess they’ll be particularly popular! Most of the rides will be 5-20 kilometres, but the festival will be an opportunity for the serious amateur cyclists to get sporty on our World-class routes, including the Peak District Staffordshire Moorlands Cyclosportive. The highlight will be the Thornbridge Bike Fest on the 14 and 15 September.
Annie Last sums up what’s on offer: “Whether you’re a beginner or expert, why not get on your bike and book ahead to enjoy some of the best cycling country you’ll ever experience”. Details of the festival are at www.visitpeakdistrict.com/pdcf
Jim Dixon, CEO, Peak District National Park Authority