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Thousands flock to enjoy RideLondon FreeCycle




It’s great to be back!

Thousands flock to enjoy RideLondon FreeCycle

Tens of thousands of people flocked to RideLondon FreeCycle today, as the event returned to the capital for the first time since 2019.

Cyclists of all ages, abilities and backgrounds got on their bikes to explore an accessible eight-mile traffic-free loop, taking in some of London’s most famous sights and stopping off at four free Festival Zones to enjoy activities and entertainment for all.

A carnival atmosphere was guaranteed at this completely free event, thanks to circus stilt bikes, penny farthings and music bikes banging out tunes along the route, while bands, choirs and DJs added to the festival feel, as participants rang their bells in time with the music.

Free Led Rides, in partnership with London Cycling Campaign and supported by Ford, brought cyclists safely to the RideLondon FreeCycle route from the 32 London boroughs.

It is the sense of security gained from being able to cycle on traffic-free streets that attracts so many families to the event, as rider Mian Wei said: ‘We come every year that the event is held! Normally it feels very busy everywhere in the city and just walking down the street can feel dangerous – but today you can freely cycle and feel safe as well. It’s very good!’

Southbank’s sights

For the first time in the event’s history, the route crossed to the south of the Thames to give riders the chance to cycle through the buzzing Southbank area – a treat relished by Simon Short and wife Lynda, who took part along with daughters Alexandra, 15, and Isabelle, 12: “We did the whole lot, including Westminster Bridge and the Southbank – we’d been there recently for a concert so thought we’d have some lunch by the river, which was lovely. It was nice to see the restored Big Ben too.”

“The event was really good, really well organised and friendly. We’ve got two happy teenagers (well one teenager and one near-teenager!).

“The event was really good, really well organised and friendly. We’ve got two happy teenagers (well one teenager and one near-teenager!).

Four free Festival Zones

Fun, free and fit for all the family, the four Festival Zones on the RideLondon FreeCycle route offered the perfect opportunity to take a break from cycling to relax, rest weary legs, grab some refreshment and enjoy a wealth of activities and entertainment against a backdrop of some of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Visitors to the St Paul’s and Paternoster Square Festival Zone enjoyed checking out electric vehicles at Ford’s Go Electric roadshow, as well as Road Bike Rampage’s new show, featuring a stunt unicyclist. People were also encouraged to get involved in some bike-based activities like the inner-tube challenge – a contest to find out who could fix a flat tyre the fastest – before refuelling at the Urban Food Fest market.

Returning RideLondon FreeCycle fan Gill Palmer was at the St Paul’s Zone with her three sons, and said: “We love the atmosphere, honestly – it’s one of my boys’ favourite days out. It’s really nice and the weather today is ideal for cycling. We’re going to have something to eat here and then do the route again! It seemed busy along the course but that’s brilliant – it’s just what you want. We love the event – it’s fantastic.”

At the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Festival Zone, the focus was on cycling accessibility, with a traffic-free test track offering the chance to try a huge range of adapted bikes and trikes. Staff from the award-winning charity Wheels for Wellbeing – which works to remove barriers to biking – were also on hand to explain how anyone can get into cycling.

Meanwhile at Guildhall Yard cyclists could jump on a smoothie bike to create their own refreshing rewards as they watched displays by one of the UK’s leading bike stunt show teams, while the Waterloo Place Festival Zone featured bike-powered fun and challenges including a Scalextric game and the world’s slowest bike race – all the way from Holland!

No bike? No problem!

For people without bikes, Transport for London’s Santander Cycles were available to hire at docking stations across the city with their bikes serviced throughout the day.

It all added up to an amazing day in the saddle for the tens of thousands of cyclists who enjoyed the event’s return after more than 1,000 days away.

And the excitement didn’t stop when the RideLondon FreeCycle route closed at 15:00 – as the focus then switched to the final stage of the UCI Women’s WorldTour race, the RideLondon Classique.

Stage Three will see world’s fastest women take on nine laps in the city centre and is expected to attract thousands of cycling fans – both spectating in person and via the live coverage on BBC2 – as the world’s greatest festival of cycling draws to a close this evening.

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