A series of free cycle rides are taking place in Leeds over the coming weeks ideal for families and anyone eager to get out on their bikes.

As part of the new partnership between Leeds City Council, British Cycling and West Yorkshire Metro’s go:cycling project announced earlier this year, a range of guided Sky Ride Local rides are available suited to riders of all ages and abilities during the remainder of the school summer holidays and beyond.

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The rides follow on from the first-ever Sky Ride Leeds which last month attracted more than 8,500 people to take to the streets of the city centre for a traffic-free ride.

The Sky Ride Local events are smaller rides aimed at encouraging people to go cycling together and explore the local area. All rides are organised and guided by British Cycling-trained Ride Leaders, who are on hand to offer guidance and support throughout.

A variety of distances and challenges are available, ranging from short easygoing rides to more challenging tests for more advanced riders.

All the rides are free to attend featuring a range of family-friendly off-road routes.

The next Sky Ride Local events in Leeds are on Sunday 18 August, with an easy ride from Carr Manor Community School to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm starting at 10am. Also that day at 2pm there will be another easygoing ride from the Royal Armouries to Thwaite Mills along the Aire and Calder Canal.

For riders looking for more of a testing challenge, the route from Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills to Bingley Five Rise Locks from 10am on Sunday 25 August should be ideal.

More of a gentle ride will also be available that afternoon at Roundhay Park, following an easy loop from the Lakeside Café through the park from 2pm.

The final Sky Ride Local events taking place in Leeds before the return to school are on Sunday 1 September, with a steady ride from Armley Mills to Rodley Nature Reserve from 10am and an easy ride through Temple Newsam Park from The Gatehouse car park at 2pm that afternoon.

To secure a place on any of the rides, those interested need to register here with places filled on a first-come first-served basis through that process.

For those under 12, a range of goodies are available for registering and attending a ride, including a sports watch and a backpack for completing three rides.

Sky Ride Local events continue through September and October, while there also a range of women-only Breeze rides available plus associated rides organised by local cycling clubs.

Cycling in Leeds received a further major boost this week when funding approval was given to create a ‘cycling superhighway’ from Leeds to Bradford with cycling at the heart of an ambitious proposal to improve health, leisure, regeneration and also job creation in the area.
More information on the success of the ‘cycling superhighway’ bid here.

These developments are all part of the build-up to the showcase of world cycling, the Tour de France, coming to Leeds next July for the Grand Départ of the 2014 race. Then the city welcomes the finest cyclists in the world and a huge global audience.

One resident of Leeds inspired by the Tour de France and recent cycling events and announcements is Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, who took to the Sky Ride circuit last month and immediately afterwards ordered her own new adapted tricycle as a result!

Councillor Yeadon said:

“Growing up with a disability, I never thought that cycling could be a pastime for me. Having a go on an adapted tricycle at Sky Ride was such good fun and showed me that it is possible and that cycling can be accessible for everyone, whatever their ability.

“Wherever you go in Leeds at the moment people are talking about cycling and it is great to see more and more people out on bikes. Hosting the Tour de France is going to be amazing and it was brilliant to see so many people taking part in Sky Ride last month.

“Together with this week’s announcement about the cycling superhighway there is a real sense of excitement around cycling in Leeds. I am now out on my new tricycle whenever I get chance and it would be great to see all these Sky Ride Local events full – I’m keen on having a go at some of them myself.”

More information on Sky Ride here.

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