Durham's top policeman aiming to tame The Beast
Chief Constable enters 50-mile sportive, his force's motorcycles to escort riders...

Durham Constabulary’s top police officer is set to tackle The Beast, a 50-mile mass participation ride around County Durham, which takes place in September 12 months after the cancellation of what had been scheduled to be the inaugural edition of the event due to problems securing insurance.

Last year’s event was called off at a late stage, although 50 of the 250 riders who had originally entered went ahead and rode the route anyway. This time around, according to The Northern Echo, organisers have planned ahead to ensure that there are no such problems, including securing police support – and Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, a keen cyclist, will be lending his backing by riding the event.

The ride forms part of the fourth annual Durham Big Ride, which comprises three other events and takes place over two weekends in September, and in recognition of his support, organisers have presented the police officer with the first entry number for The Beast II.

Chief Constable Stoddart told The Northern Echo: "I’ve done the Big Ride before and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m really pleased we have managed to work together with the county and the Big Ride people to enable The Beast to go ahead this year.

"It looks like a good, really challenging course,” he continued. “I would normally hope to complete a 50-mile ride in three hours, but given the hilly course, then I would estimate it could be nearer to four."

The event, which takes place on Sunday September 5, will start and finish at Sniperley Park and Ride site and riders will be given a police motorcycle escort out of Durham, as well as rolling road closures during the early stages of the itinerary.

The following Sunday there will be three further events based around the Aykley Heads Estate, with routes of 25, 12 and 1.5 miles.

Full details of all the events, which are expected to attract 1,700-plus participants, can be found on the Durham Big Ride website.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.