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Bristol Biggest Bike Ride and BHF London to Brighton rides

Tens of thousands of cyclists were out on two of Britain’s biggest and longest-running mass rides yesterday, including the Biggest Bike Ride in Bristol and the British Heart Foundation’s annual London to Brighton ride.

In Bristol it was the 19th year of the Biggest Bike Ride, which offered routes from eight to 38 miles long, attracting 5,500 cyclists to speed along the Portway dual carriageway that was closed for the event.

On the 54-mile London to Brighton route, 27,000 cyclists set out from Clapham Common for the 37th annual ride. The event has raised more than £50 million for the BHF and is thought to be Europe's largest charity cycling event.

Among the participants was Toby Field from Eastbourne, who has lost 8st 14lb since getting into cycling. He told the BBC he'd been in denial about hs own health problems after his father died at just 55 years old from a a weight-related heart attack.

"I wanted a cheap bike so I could ride around the park with my kids. I was walking and they were leaving me behind. That's where it all started."

This year's ride is thought to have raised over £3 million.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.