The National Trust is celebrating pedal power with an inaugural summer cycling festival. JESSICA TRAVERS looks at why the conservation charity wants us all to be making more of the great outdoors, and why two wheels are better for your health than four
IT’S 150 years since what is regarded as the first modern bicycle was invented. Just how far pedal power has come since the 1860s – and indeed before then with the two-wheeled steerable ‘running machine’ invented in the early 19th century that required the rider to push themselves forward with their feet on the ground – can be seen at Seaton Delaval Hall on July 23-24.
The National Trust property in south Northumberland is holding a two-day Cycle Fest celebrating all things bike related.
There will be vintage and new cycle demonstrations, special doctor bike sessions, coaching for kids, stalls, police and health advice, a free water station courtesy of Northumbrian Water and even the chance to indulge in a sports massage.
But most of all visitors are being encouraged to come along on their own bikes and get pedalling on family-friendly cycle routes.
The same weekend fellow Trust property Gibside will also be throwing open its gates for a bike party. The Pedallers’ Picnic on July 23 will give families the chance to cycle in safety around the 18th-Century landscape park and nature reserve on the edge of the Tyneside conurbation just 4.5 miles from the Metrocentre.
The two events will help bring to a close the National Trust’s first ever Cycling Festival (July 16-24) in what is the last week of the Tour de France.
More than 40 properties across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have organised events aimed at getting young and old alike off the settee and into the countryside.
A range of guided rides and way-marked routes have been made available for all levels of cyclists, with bikes available to hire at some venues.
The Cycle Festival is in addition to a series of ‘sportive’ challenge rides winding their way through the open countryside that the National Trust has also organised for various locations throughout 2011.
Aimed at all ages and abilities from first-time cyclists to seasoned pros the routes range from a few miles to testing 50 to 100-mile rides.
The National Trust is ideally placed to promote cycling as not only a fun pastime but a great way to get fit.
One of the UK’s largest landowners with 660,000 acres and 300 historic houses in its care, it is keen to get the nation out and about exploring its coastal paths, beautiful countryside, historic parks and forests.
Alison Forbes, events co-ordinator at Seaton Delaval Hall, says: “The Cycle Festival is about opening the Trust’s doors to cyclists whether for a family ride, after hours tour through the park or a more challenging bike ride.
“Many of us have a bike in our shed or garage that is sat there doing nothing and the summer months are a great chance to dust them down and get out and about.