An olympic medal winning cyclist put pedal power in action in her home city of Leeds in a drive to encourage people of all ages to get involved with the sport.
Katy Marchant was at the Let’s Ride event, held by British Cycling and sponsors HSBC, today which saw thousands of cycling enthusiasts from pre-school to pensioners take on a six kilometre route around the city centre.
The 2016 bronze winner took a break from training to do a lap of the course herself.
She said: “It is a family day out but a couple of people here might be on the British team in 20 years time.
“I knew nothing about cycling until I was 20 but it is so much better now. There are so many more people that know about it, better facilities and the Brownlees have played a massive part in that and cycling has gone mad and hopefully we can get even two or three people from here to think ‘I want that to be me’.”
The 25-year-old from Barwick-in-Elmet said that even for non competetive cyclists the city’s infrastructure was being improved to encourage a healthier lifestyle and greener commute.
She added: “There are cycle lanes being built across the city trying to turn it into a more bike friendly place to be.”
And just for yesterday parts of the city were made friendlier as roads were closed to vehicles to allow cyclists to navigate the route which went from Millennium Square, to the Headrow and past the firstdirect arena and onto Oatland Lane.
After that cyclists pedalled to Woodhouse Moor and did a lap of the park before coming back to the city centre via the university and Willow Terrace Road.
The event was well supported by the city’s cycling fans including David and Ali Hornsby of Cookridge who were joined by 17 month-old daughter Eleanor in a specially adapted baby bike seat.
They said: “We re keen cyclists and wanted to introduce her early, we are really into the health benefits but also wanted to support this event to encourage fitness.”
Miss Marchant also did a question and answer for the crowds and said she hoped her rapid journey to Olympic success would encourage other people to take up the sport.
Originally a heptathlete she was asked by her then coach, Toni Minichiello (who also trained Jessica Ennis), to try cycling after she had been spotted on a Watt Bike. She was at fiorst apprehensive but made the switch in 2013 and three years later was celebrating Olympic success.
She said: “I had never seen a velodrome and thought there is not a praye I will do that. They said give it a go. As daft as it sounds I was 20 and learning to ride a bike and especially at a 45 degree angle and then the Olympics was the most surreal three days of my life.
“British Cycling had a great reputation, we were wiping the medal boards, other people were winning and that is infectious. All the girls were in an apartment. Laura Trott and Becky James had won and I didn’t want to be the only one coming home without.”
Marchant is now in training for the World Cup series in October.