This September will see the inaugural edition of a new sportive that will take cyclists on a 115-mile loop around the countryside surrounding London, while raising funds for Access Sport, a charity that seeks to encourage youngsters in deprived areas to engage with sport.
Organised by Andy Cook Cycling, the Ride Around London, to be held on Sunday 25 September, is being promoted by Olympic champions and Access Sport ambassadors James Cracknell and Rebecca Romero and takes in several venues that will be used in the London 2012 Games.
It starts, however, at the last surviving venue from the 1948 Olympics – Herne Hill Velodrome. From there, the route heads southwest into Surrey, going up Box Hill, which will feature in the 2012 road race, then to Windsor Great Park, host to that event in 1948 and past Eton Dorney, where the rowing medals will be decided next summer.
Riders will then head into the Chilterns before returning to the capital, with the finish at the new Lee Valley White Water Centre, the venue for the Canoe Slalom competition next year.
Cracknell, who won gold in the coxless fours at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, and who is still recovering from an accident last year that almost claimed his life while cycling in America, said: “Ride Around London is a cycling event with a difference.
“It’s an exciting challenge that allows you to be part of creating a sporting and cycling legacy as funds raised go to build better access to sport for kids in disadvantaged areas in our great capital city. I cannot wait for it to kick off.”
Rebecca Romero, who won rowing silver at Athens before switching to track cycling to claim gold in the individual pursuit at Beijing, said: “The children in the communities we work in really need support and this event can be the start of making that happen for years to come”
Money raised through the event will enable Access Sport to continue its work in promoting sport including cycling to children in deprived parts of the capital. The charity, whose supporters, drawn from a range of sports include cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Jody Cundy.
The charity works with some 130 sports clubs including Tower Hamlets Cycling Club, Cycling Club Hackney and and BMXtreme in Newham and, with the support of Mayor of London Boris Johnson and British Cycling, is leading an initiative to develop five new BMX clubs in the five Olympic Host Boroughs – Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.
Another of the charity’s supporters, Shanaze Reade, winner of world championships in the team sprint and BMX and who is targeting both events at London 2012, said: “BMX is my life and passion. I was a young kid when I got into racing so I am right behind Access Sport and Briitsh Cycling’s project to create five new BMX clubs in East London – there definitely needs to be better tracks in London”
Organisers stress that the number of places on the event is limited, making early sign-up vital, and you can register for the Ride Around London on the Access Sport 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.