Report: Sky Ride Bath
Event: 25th July 2010, Bath | Report & Images: Eddie Allen
Thousands of riders took to the sun-drenched, historic streets of Bath on Sunday 25th July, as Sky Ride graced the Georgian city for the first time. A 7.3km loop was closed to traffic from 10am to 3pm, enabling cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy such sights as the Royal Crescent, The Circus, Royal Victoria Park and the Kennet and Avon canal. British Cycling reporter Eddie Allen was out there amongst the hi-viz bibs to soak up the fun.
Riding on closed roads is a rare treat - riding on closed roads in a city designated as a World Heritage Site is another thing entirely. My 10 year old son Harry and I rolled up to the event village in the warm morning sun and were immediately blown away by the wonderful location and the buzz of excitement, as hundreds of riders, young, old and inbetween were milling about, coming and going and checking out the fun on offer.
Sky Ride Bike Cam
A Right Royal Start
As soon as we arrived at the start finish zone we were keen to get our bibs and check out the route. Having been to Bath a number of times before, we'd only viewed its historic streets on foot (which takes ages) or by car, which is a drag. Leaving the event village, we climbed the hill and turned right onto the Royal Crescent, surely the world's most famous and beautiful row of terraced houses! Looking to our right, there was a fine view over the event village, which occupied the highest point of the lush Royal Victoria Park. Beyond, the hills surrounding Bath were basking in the morning sun as we whizzed past hordes of bemused, camera toting tourists. However, the tourists' cameras, which might usually have been pointing at Bath's fine architecture, had for a day found a new subject - the sudden invasion of cyclists whose hi-viz Sky Ride bibs shone out clear against the cobbles and the Cotswold stone.
From the Crescent, Harry and I followed the route through The Circus before heading downhill and turning into Royal Victoria Park. We rode the broad and deliciously traffic-free avenue past the flowerbeds and bandstands and already there were Sky Riders spread out on the grass and lining the park benches. The park cafe had become a cyclist's cafe and every tree which lined the avenue seemed to have a bike propped against it.
A1 on the A4
From the park, we whizzed down the hill and swung right onto the A4 Bristol Road. Every time I've visited Bath, the A4 has been a scary place for cyclists and pedestrians. However, today, the main route to Bristol was a place transformed. The cars where gone and in their place, a stream of cyclists stretched off into the distance. Families were riding four abreast, Harry and I got a real kick from riding nonchalantly down the wrong side of the road!
A City Ride with a Taste of the Country
Eventually we left the A4 and threaded through some quiet roads on the edge of town and the ride suddenly took on an almost rural feel. To our right, narrowboats negotiated the locks on the Kennet and Avon canal. Ahead the rolling patchwork hills replaced the Cotswold stone splendour. It was here we found the rest stop, were we could stock up on drinks at the Gatorade and Drench stall or get our bikes checked over at the Evans Cycles stand.
From here, Harry and I followed the route back along the A4, all the while, the two wheeled traffic was increasing, as word seemed to spread of the quiet two wheeled revolution that was gathering momentum on its streets. We girded ourselves and changed down through the gears as we hit the steep hill alongside the park, before cutting through the park and back to the event village.
When we arrived back at the event village things were in full swing. The British Cycling Go-Ride area was doing a roaring trade, with young (and not so young) riders pitting their speed and skills against the Go-Ride skills course. For those who fancied a sterner challenge, British Cycling's Love Cycling stand had two state of the art Wattbikes set up for people to pit themselves against the 200 metre sprint challenge. The happy staff of the Love Cycling stand were also there to tell everyone about Sky Ride, Sky Ride Local and British Cycling's Ride membership. For the hungry and thirsty, there was no shortage of options, with coffee stalls, burger stands and of course, the guys from Gatorade, complete with the biggest bottle of orange Gatorade you're ever likely to see.
We're all ‘Team Sky'
Also on site in the Entertainment Zone was the Adidas stand, which was doing a roaring trade in replica Team Sky kit. Judging by the number of Sky Riders wearing Team Sky kit, it was clear that the inspirational endeavours of Bradley Wiggins and co had struck a chord with the cycling masses. However for me, the day itself and its thousands of participants were the real inspiration.
Sky Ride People
But don't just take our word for it. Here's what a random sample of Bath Sky Riders thought of the day...
Richard from Chippenham
"I'm on the Sky Ride today and it's good fun. It's good to be around Bath without the roads open and to enjoy it as a family event."
Simon from Bath
"I've come along to Sky Ride with my sons Harry and Charlie. It's absolutely fantastic. I've lived in Bath all my life and I've never seen anything quite so wonderful.
Harry from Bath
"I think the Sky Ride is very, very good. It's amazing to think that you can go on the wrong side of the road and you don't have to obey anything and you don't get run over!"
Charlie from Bath
"I've cycled from the other side of Bath with my brother Harry and my Dad Simon."
Ruth from Bathford
"I'm here to enjoy the Bath Sky Ride today. I'm here with my family and just enjoying a fantastic day out in the fresh air, sunshine and this beautiful historic setting. You can see the amount of people who've come out just to enjoy cycling through the streets of Bath, completely unrestricted by vehicles. It's a fantastic family day out."
To find out more about Sky Ride and Sky Ride Local go to www.goskyride.com