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Get into gear for the Big Bike Festival 2016!

13 May 2016

Whether you’re new to cycling or you’re a regular on the local roads and cycle paths then you’ll be pleased to hear that June sees a major celebration of pedal power as the North West Big Bike Festival kicks off in Derry and Strabane. 

The event, sponsored by Tourism NI, forms a major centrepiece of the NI Cycling Fest and highlight activities include Stunt Bike displays, a huge Velodrome, the Maiden City Criterion, Karts, Simulators and much more. 

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, got on her bike today to mark the launch of the event, which encourages locals and visitors to the district to take to two wheels and join in the festival. The event is a major part of Tourism NI’s Festival of Cycling taking place across Northern Ireland and the UK and Irish National Bike Weeks, which run from June 3rd.

Speaking at the launch Cllr McCallion encouraged local people to get involved. “We all know the benefits of cycling for both our health and the environment. But many of us have simply gotten into the habit of driving the short journeys to work and school. Now we’re coming into the brighter summer months I’m really encouraging everyone to just give cycling a go.

“We have an amazing district to discover by bike, including an extensive greenway network, which makes it easy for all abilities to cycle without having to cycle on the road. So why not set yourself a challenge and get out and about on your bike for some of the many events taking place as part of the Big Bike Fest.”

The Big Bike Fest aims to promote the wide ranging benefits of cycling and demonstrate how easily it can be adopted as a lifestyle change for the entire family. Speaking on behalf of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Ross McGill said: “We have a great programme of events lined up during the Festival aimed at cyclists of all ages and abilities. We’ve tried to be innovative in providing new experiences of cycling, with events like our Wild Food Cycle and our Get Cycling event featuring Bike Powered Smoothie Makers and bike powered Scalextric.

“Cycling can be a fantastic family fun activity and an opportunity to introduce children to exercise without it seeming like a chore. I would love to see more people coming along to our try out events and hopefully as a result making more use of our greenways to explore the local scenery and to support the preservation of the local environment.”

Mary Blake, Tourism Development Officer and event organiser is delighted with the range of programme on offer in the region. “The event is funded by Derry City & Strabane District Council with support for our sponsors at Tourism Northern Ireland and the Health Promotion Agency and DARD Travelwise. It is this support that has allowed us to stage such an exciting and innovative programme and best of all – it’s free! We want to help put NI cycling on the map and would love to host the Gran Fondo here in the future.”

Kicking off the month of bike based activity is the Well Women Cycle which takes place on June 5th, closely followed by the 4th annual Maiden City Criterium on June 7th.  The Get Cycling Show takes place in Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place on Saturday to Sunday 11th & 12th June.  Here visitors can get up to speed on the latest cycling inventions at the Bike Try-out Roadshow in the Guildhall Square with Megabikes, Bike Simulators, Trikes and Kart racing. Also on June 11th get foraging and join the Wild Food Cycle from Eglinton to Park Village or why not join the Dawn Community Cycle on June 12th for a peaceful trip along the scenic Waterside Greenway. 

Sunday the 12th of June will see the UK’s only Street Velodrome (http://www.streetvelodrome.co.uk/) roll into town for a full day of free try outs and fast paced, head to head action in the Guildhall Square.   

The Festival closes in jaw-dropping style on June 18th in Strabane with a full day of high flying two-wheeled aerobatics with the 360 Stunt Team at Castle Street in Strabane. 

As well as these events there will also be a number of opportunities for local schools to get involved, with free breakfasts for pupils participating in Bike to School days across the district, and exciting cycling demonstrations. There will also be a food village, dine out ideas for cyclists, as well as children’s arts and crafts.

These are just some highlights from the Festival programme and more details on how you can get involved can be found on the website at www.derrystrabane.com/bigbikefest