Pedal power as thousands join in fifth Norfolk cycling festival

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More than 8,000 visitors, including near 2,500 competitors, descended on Holkham Park over the three-day bank holiday weekend for this year’s fifth Pedal Norfolk Cycling Festival at Holkham.

“It’s incredible, it’s getting bigger and better every year,” said organiser, Peter Flett, after watching the 8.30am start of the first 100 mile event on the Saturday.

“Last year we had 360 competitors, this year it was 450.”

Over the three days the roads of North and West Norfolk were awash with cyclists as they rode along routes reaching up towards the Fens, past Sandringham and down beyond Wells-next-the-Sea.

From the gentle and easy going flat routes to the more gruelling up hills, the smooth Tarmac roads were virtually car-free.

Alongside the 100 mile events for serous racers, were 50 and 20 mile events and even a seven-miles loop for beginners and the very young.

One highlight was an Eastern Counties closed road race of nine six-mile laps around the grounds of Holkham Park.

The weekend attracted cyclists of all ages.

The youngest was probably a three-year-old who covered 7.5 miles.

Four-year-old Henry Bourne crashed, but got back on his bike to complete one 20 miles race as did his eight-year-old sister Megan.

Eleven-year-old James Huband, though breaking his arm whilst taking part in a non-cycling competition at the festival, still completed a 10 mile circuit.

One nine-year-old did two 20 mile races to prepare himself, he said, for a 50 miler next year.

The list of entries was littered with youngsters under 12 demonstrating their enthusiasm for the sport.

A recent survey suggested that one in ten of the population in England now get on their bikes at least once a week.

At the other end of the sport some of the serious racers pedal-powered their way over the three days to a total of 250 miles.

Many spent the weekend under canvas or in a caravan or motor home in picturesque surroundings on the edge of Holkham Lake. They had a wide range of attractions to keep them occupied between races including kayaking and paddle boarding, pond dipping and trampolining.

A free academy taught road skills to youngsters aged between four and 14.

“We think we’ve built the ultimate cycling festival for the whole family. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve ridden a bike or not for years you’ll still have a brilliant time,” said Mr Flett.