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Hop aboard for Bristol Cycle Festival 2012

Events include speed-dating, group rides and art shows 7-15 July

Thousands of cyclists have descended on Bristol this weekend for a spot of bike fixin', bike dancin' and bike romancin' at the annual Bristol Cycle Festival.

From 7 to 15 July the city will play host to the Bristol Cycle Festival - a celebration of cycling held at various venues and locations across Bristol city centre. The festival, now in its third year, offers a week-long programme of events which includes family rides, bike mad bands playing sets at local bars city bike tours, talks and lectures, cycle-in outdoor cinema and bicycle speed dating.

Today, keen riders can enjoy the Cycle and Swim to Portishead Lido, in which participants cycle down the Avon Gorge to the Bristol Channel for a swim in the heated open air pool at Portishead.

There are also tours of Banksy's lesser known local artworks, and the hub of the festival is Showroom art gallery at 31 College Green, situated at the bottom of Park Street.

Here, visitors can pick up brochures, find out more about the event and see Dr Bike for a free tune-up.

Beyond celebrating all things two-wheeled, the festival also has a social mission. Antony de Heveningham, one of the festival organisers, said: “This year we'll be doing more than ever to break down the barriers to cycling.”

There will be organised ‘Bike Trains’ through the main routes in Bristol to escort those new to commuting by bike and build their confidence. Festival-goers will also have the opportunity the buy a refurbished bike at the Festival Hub on College Green.

On Sunday 15 July the Festival will end with a bang at a ‘Big Bike Spectacular’ held at the Big Top next to Temple Meads station. It will be the first large-scale outdoor event to make use of the new Creative Common space.

There will be cycling-related games and entertainment for all ages throughout the day and a chance to take part in the ‘Carnivelo’ – the UK’s only bicycle carnival.

Bristol Cycle Festival receives a grant from Bristol City Council to cover core costs, but fundrasing, including events like the vintage bike ride earlier this year, makes up the largest part of the funding.

De Heveningham told This is Bristol: “The theme this year is to make cycling more accessible to a wider range of people. We’re putting on events to attract older cyclists, and there is a cycle for people recovering from mental health illness. We’re trying to break down the barriers.”

He added that it was a lot of work to put on the Festival: “We do it all in our free time and it quite quickly racks up. There’s a core group of seven or eight people and then we have help from a much much wider range of people.

“We get help across the board from bike clubs donating prizes, and a design studio which does our designs for free.”

To find out more, visit Bristol Cycle Festival

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