Team GB's gold rush at the Olympic velodrome helped boost numbers at this year's Sky Ride, as Jane Tyler reports.
Around 18,000 people turned Birmingham into a cycling city when cars were temporarily banished from many of the roads.
Double Olympic cycling champion Laura Trott was one of them, returning to her bike in a bid to inspire the next generation to go for gold.
The 20-year-old was the star guest at Sunday’s Birmingham Sky Ride, which saw cars banished from a six-mile route around Edgbaston as cyclists took to two wheels instead of four.
Staged in the wake of Team GB’s dominant performance in the velodrome at London 2012, cyclists mounted everything from the latest sleek bikes to old boneshakers dusted off from garages.
Children inspired by the Olympic gold rush were also out in force, while others pedalled round in fancy dress as Minnie Mouse or Spongebob Squarepants.
Trott was with her parents Adrian and Glenda, who introduced her to the sport which led her to omnium and team pursuit glory at the Games.
“It’s lovely to see so many families here because that’s how I got into cycling,” she said.
“If, between the Olympics and Sky Ride, we can inspire the next generation then that’s fantastic.”
The event, now in its fourth year, is a collaboration between cycle sport governing body British Cycling, Sky and Birmingham City Council with the aim of getting more people on their bikes.
Also on the route were singer Stacey Solomon, an event ambassador, and her four-year-old son Zak.
“I was a bit spooked when I heard Laura was coming because I wondered what chance I stood alongside an Olympic champion,” she joked.
“But me and Zak went at our own pace, enjoying the sunshine and seeing the city.”
The Sidhu family, from Edgbaston, said the Olympics had inspired them to sign up.
Mum Kulvinder, a teacher, was riding with her GP husband Sukhdev and their children Daleep, 20, Anoop, 12, and Himmy, 11. She said: “We’ve all got bikes but don’t tend to ride them very often because the roads in Birmingham are so busy with traffic.
“But we watched the Olympics and thought the Sky Ride was ideal because it meant we could ride as a family along traffic-free roads.”
And it was a similar story from Solihull’s Harvey family. Mum Sam was joined by her husband John and their children Jack, 12, and Maddison, four.
She said: “Jack is the only one of us who cycles regularly so this was a perfect opportunity for us all to go cycling. We loved the cycling on the Olympics so that was an extra push.”
Super-keen cyclist Gianfraco Saciloppo, aged 50, cycled in from Kidderminster to take part.
The full-time dad and restaurant worker, from Halesowen, was out on his £3,500 carbon fibre road bike.
“I love cycling of any kind so to see all the families on their bikes made me really happy,” he said.
Slump hasn’t put brakes on two-wheeled craze
People are still investing their hard earned cash on all things two-wheeled despite being in the longest economic slump for more than a century, according to a survey conducted by The Cycle Show.
The survey, carried out on www.cycleshow.co.uk in August 2012, which delved into the spending habits of cyclists, found that eight out of ten have spent significant amounts on a new bike in the last 18 months or are planning to buy one in the next 18 months.
Of the 55 per cent of people that have purchased a new bike in the last year and a half, 33 per cent said they spent between £1,000 and £1,999, while 25 per cent said they had spent upwards of £2,000.
Seventy-nine per cent of those planning to purchase already own a bike and are upgrading, with the upgrade being the desire for a lighter-weight model.
Of those cyclists that have bought a new bike in the past 18 months, 14 per cent said they had invested because they had started to commute or were regular commuters and wanted to upgrade, while 15 per cent said they were starting to race competitively or had improved in cycling and wanted an upgrade.
Chris Holman, Cycle Show director commented: “This survey demonstrates that whilst people are trying to make savings in their everyday lives, the majority of cyclists will continue to invest in the latest bikes, with a lot more serious first-time buyers coming into the market as well.
“Whether it’s measured by medal count, participation or cash spent on bikes, cycling can no longer be classed as a minority pursuit.
“Some will be inspired by Britain’s greatest cyclists, including Olympic gold medallists Ed Clancy and Joanna Rowsell, who visitors to The Cycle Show will have the opportunity to meet, while others will be commuters looking to take the next step in cycling. Ultimately, though, it would appear that despite the recession, cycling is a buoyant market in the UK.”
* The Cycle Show will be held at the NEC from September 27-30 For more information, or to book tickets, visit www.cycleshow.co.uk.