200 cyclists enjoy rides in and around historic Thames-side town

Cyclists in Abingdon made the most of last weekend’s sunshine on Sunday as they celebrated the historic Oxfordshire town’s first ever Freewheeling event.

Organised by keen cyclist Emily Sharp, the event offered cyclists the chance to participate on a number of guided rides around the town, which sits on the River Thames a few miles south of Oxford.

In all, some 15 rides took place during the day, with distances of four, ten or 27 miles, with 200 riders taking part, while many other people visited the base of operations on the Market Square to found out what was going on and learn about cycling.

Ms Sharp, who lives in the town, told the Oxford Times: “It has been such a success. People have been able to just turn up, book themselves on a ride, then go, enjoying cake stops on route and free massages at the end.”

She continued: “So many people have said they cycle around Abingdon on their own and would like to meet up with other cyclists.

“A lot of cycle clubs are about going fast, but this is about going out and having a nice, leisurely ride.

“We have been showing them some really beautiful rides.”

“We have had no accidents at all, and, as far as I’m aware, only one puncture,” Ms Sharp added.

Among the mounts on show were a bicycle operated by seven riders and several unicycles, including one ridden by 45-year-old Barry Gates from Wantage, who opted for the ten-mile route.

Mr Gates, who commutes by train into London every day then rides his unicycle across the capital from Paddington to London Bridge, said: “It’s not too much of a distance for me.”

He added: “It was very good. You got to try out some local cycle routes, so you know your way around a few places. You can also mingle with a few other cyclists — there was another unicyclist I’ve never met before, so that was good.”

The Oxford Times said that Ms Sharp hopes to organise a similar event in the future.

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.