Bike Week 2013 is upon us - but what's it all about?
Bike Week 2013 is upon us - a national celebration of all things bike and a series of events in every corner of the country designed to promote the pastime for every level of rider.
It's all about the joy of cycling, and has been running since 1923 when it was started by the Cyclists Touring Club (now CTC). Nowadays, Bike Hub, the cycle industry scheme to support the future of cycling by investing funds raised by a levy on the sales of cycle retailers and their suppliers, is one of the main sponsors of the event.
One of the founding principles is that cycling should be for everyone, old or young, and as such it's ideal for beginners. It's the perfect time to introduce a nervous friend or family member to the joy of two wheels, and if you or they have a rusty old pedal iron at the back of the garage you'll probably be able to find a free Dr Bike service near you to give it the once over and make any essential repairs.
77% of people own a bike yet only 14% use them regularly - and now's the chance to help change that.
This video, from a familiarly soggy June 2012, gives a flavour of the ways in which all sorts of people become involved in Bike Week.
Once you're up and running, there are hundreds of group rides catering to every level to choose from, whether a gentle pootle around traffic-free country paths or a full-on century with some likeminded mile munchers.
Almost half a million people across the country take part in Bike Week, making it the UK's largest mass participation cycling event.
Now you might feel you don't need Bike Week. You're pretty comfortable on two wheels, what with your daily commute and weekend training miles.
So what about organising an event, and passing on a little of your enthusiasm for the sport?
All you have to do is fill out a short form about the type of ride, talk, or session you'd like to hold, and you'll receive free public liability insurance, as well as help promoting your event.
What's more, Brompton Dock are offering a week's free folding bike hire to event organisers (see the Bike Week Facebook page for more details) and before June 18 you can win an Apollo Fusion bike from Halfords for yourself or a friend, by signing up to the newsletter here.
Bike Week 2013 Events
Here is our pick of just some of the events going on up and down the country this week. For information on these and all other Bike Week events click here.
Free bike MOTS at Bedford Midland Station between 17 and 21 June (16:00 – 20:00). On Monday and Thursday there will be advice from British Transport Police about keeping your bike secure, and the CTC are running some group bike rides ideal for beginner cyclists or those who are looking to get back into cycling. On Wednesday 19 is a ride from Anglesey Abbey to Wicken Fen along the Lode Way cycle path.
Head to Notting Hill's Coronet Cinema on June 20 for a series of short films from Bikeminded’s recent Cycle Shorts competition and the closing feature is the critically-acclaimed cycling ‘road trip’ film Janapar’.
All kid's bikes and tagalongs are free to hire at New Forest Cycle Hire in Burley, offering the perfect chance to introduce children to the delights of cycling in beautiful surroundings.
Bike Week is a chance for local communities to celebrate their cycling successes, so in Orchard Avenue residents and supporters are gathering for a barbeque on June 30 to unveil their shiny new 20mph signs and the safer cycling they represent.
Today sees the start of the Edinburgh 24 Hour Spinning Marathon - run as a prologue to The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling. To join the 24 Hour Spinning® Marathon, sign up for a session or even go for your own record with 24 hours of spin.
And for the less energetic, June 21 and the beginning of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling sees a celebration of the bicycle on video. For the nine days of the Festival of Cycling a collection of short films will be showing on the Big Screen in Festival Square. These films will cover a wide range of different aspects of of cycling, and there will be something there for everyone.
Head to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre on June 21 to join in with the launch of a pilot project that will see a range of alternative bikes including electric bikes, tandems and disabled accessible bikes available for hire from Elan Valley Visitor centre near Rhayader and Drover Cycles in Hay on Wye. There's opportunity to register to cycle 3 miles along the Elan Valley trail from Rhayader accompanied by an Elan Valley Ranger before the event, perhaps on one of the new bikes.
Cycling and eating go hand in hand, so on June 21 why not join Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s annual fish and chip ride?
A ride around Portsea Island from the Kings back to the Kings with well earned fish and chips at the Kingfisher in Albert Road - widely held to be the best in town.
Introduce your child to two wheels safely from June 22. Children aged 2 and over can hire one of the borough's fleet of 60 balance bikes for a fun hours ride around a large safe open space. Through games and challenges, they will learn to balance on two wheels following the instructions of some experienced coaches.
A safer cycling event with stunt cycling sounds a bit of an oxymoron, but this event on June 22 is bound to be worthwhile for both new and experienced cyclists. Roll up for free Dr Bike, a cycle stunt show, free bikeability sessions, police bike security tagging, competitions, cycling challenges, cycling and route planning advice - plus a spot to sell your unwanted bikes!
The Big Blackpool Bike Bash on 16 June is another great day out, with extreme mountain bike shows, fun cycle challenges, kids scoot bikes, group rides, refurbished bike sales, Dr Bike, cycle smoothie maker, face painters and more.
If you're in need of a new set of wheels on a tight budget, your best bet is to head to Manchester's bike auction run by Bespoke Cycle Recycle on June 22 for a bargain.
Thinking of cycling in Middlesbrough for commuting or pleasure? Pop along to meet the employees of Middlesbrough Bike Academy on June 22 for a bike health check, information about cycling or just a friendly chat.
Visit some beautiful cycling country and take advantage of free bike hire all week at Bike Chain Bissoe Bike Hire and cafe. Choose from Trek mountain bikes, hybrids, children's bikes, trailers or tagalongs to explore the mineral tramways and stunning countryside.
Bring your bike along on July 2 for a comprehensive bike maintenance workshop to learn how to keep all the family's bikes in fine fettle, and minimise the time it takes to get everyone out on the road on a sunny day.
It's a good day for cycle commuters in Belfast on June 21 - just cycle to Belfast City Hall and get a free breakfast in the Bobbin Café at Belfast City Hall. Seven different meet up points converge there, helping would-be cyclists to learn safe routes.
PSNI cycling officers will be on hand to give you anti-theft advice and perform bike security marking. There will also be Dr Bike maintenance checks on your bike and you can take part in a charity spin challenge to find the fastest cyclist over 1 mile.
Learn the psychology behind safer cycling in Norfolk on June 20. Iain Temperton, Team Manager for Casualty Reduction and Karen Wildsmith, Project Assistant - Climate Change, will talk about the perception of risk for cyclists in Norwich, compared with the real story. He will identify the causes of collisions involving cyclists, explain why drivers sometimes don't see cyclists and discuss strategies to ensure we can all use the road network as safely as possible.
Get yourself to Newport Pagnell on June 16 for a 25 mile mystery cycle ride. That's all we know - it's a mystery y'see.
Today sees families heading to East Lothian for an 11km family ride around the boundary of Dunbar. Mostly quiet roads, with marshalls, snacks from Tropical Wholefoods, Sustrans goodies and plenty of time to enjoy the countryside throughout.
On June 22 join a guided ride from Walthamstow to Borough Market for breakfast. The ride is about an hour with time to buy your produce, have a spot of breakfast and come back by about noon.
Today's the day to get down to Ballymoney for some fun and games on two wheels, including early stage skills and cycle games - a great way to build confidence. Fun events include bike rounders and obstacle races. If time allows the event will include a short bike ride to Riverside Park.
June 15 sees Bike Week open with a bang in Swindon, where you are invited to experience what visibility is like from inside the driver’s cab of a lorry and see what is being done on large goods vehicles to make cycling safer. Theres also a BMX demonstration, and Dr Bike will be there to give your bike a free health check. There'll also be a roadshow where various cycling clubs and shops will set up stall for a browse.
There are loads of Cardiff-based bike events, but the one we'd pick out is the strangely beautiful Bicycle Ballet, at 1.45pm on Sunday June 16 - and it's free. If you'd like to have a go yourself and perhaps be in the show, click here.
One for the ladies, this: Divas on Wheels on June 23 offers a a 25 mile and a 50 mile circular route which will take you through some of the best scenery in east Kent. Support en route includes refreshment stops and loos, mobile bike maintenance support and motivation from “Bike Hero” escorts.
Available throughout Bike Week and beyond, free cycle training funded by Public Health Manchester is available to anyone over 16 who lives in the Manchester City Council area. Bikes are provided free of charge for sessions.
Celebrate Father's Day by getting Dad back on his bike again, for a leisurely ride along the river and back in Worcester. If you fancy it, there's a vintage dress-up theme, and there's loads of time for a picnic.