Get on your bike for Tour inspiration

Rachel Edwards and family cycling on holiday

Rachel Edwards and family cycling on holiday

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It’s the final countdown – today marks 100 days until the Tour de France arrives in Sheffield.

And the city is gearing up to welcome the world’s most watched sporting event, with a packed summer of events planned as part of the Yorkshire Festival 2014.

Here local cyclists share why they love life on two wheels as part of The Star’s Let’s Get Cycling campaign.

Mum Rachel Edwards, head at Meersbrook Bank Primary School:

“Our family has always had a love of cycling. Once our children learned as well, the world was our oyster.

“People watch us in surprise as we zoom around French villages with fishing nets attached to cross-bars and panniers brimming with picnics and beach gear.

“We bike around places of interest, then go to the beach, then head back to our caravan for a well-earned rest. After a few years the children began to record how many miles we did in a special diary and then the challenge really began. Each year our son says ‘We need to beat our record’.

“A few years ago, when they had outgrown the trail-gators, we upgraded to tandems. Suddenly we could go even further than our 20 odd miles a day to about 40.

“We went to the Italian lakes in summer 2013 and saw all kinds of beauty from those tandems, from stunning mountains to breathtaking lakes.

“As we all sat excitedly counting up the mileage, we had reached 750 miles!”

Nanny Janine Morrall, Breeze ride champion, Hillsborough:

“When I rejoined the gym when I moved back to Sheffield six years ago and went to spinning classes with my partner Shaun.

“After a few months I thought if we can go to spin classes, we can probably cycle. So at the age of about 31 or 32 I got back into cycling when I hadn’t ridden since I was 12 years old.

“I started cycling to work and then one of my friends mentioned that they always do a charity bike ride, so we joined that, and then I became involved with Breeze.

“In a typical week I can do anything from five miles to 100, depending on what I am doing, It fits into every aspect of my life.

“I love it because it is being out in the fresh air. You see things cycling that you don’t from the back of a bus.

“In the past I never really realised what was down the canal until I started riding down it for Breeze rides, then it was like ‘wow’.

“You can see all kinds of wildlife like herons and kingfishers.

“I do still ride with Shaun but since I’ve done my Breeze training I get very frustrated with him and am always telling him that he is doing it wrong.”

Ecclesall resident Neil Dixon, sustainability officer at Sheffield Hallam University:

“Cycling has become a true hobby of mine since around this time last year.

“My aim to embed fitness more into my lifestyle while putting a stop to lacklustre gym sessions were the initial motives.

“The decision then to turn to cycling was a result of enviously watching my housemate venture off into the Peak District on his bike as the days got warmer and brighter.

“Soon after, I bought my Red Rocket, a second hand, mint condition road bike off Gumtree and was ready to ride.

“The newfound eagerness was irrespective of the fact that I hadn’t cycled since I was a child and not used to busy roads. This came as a shock and created many doubts when first struggling through heavy traffic and steep hills out of Sheffield.

“However, the decisive moment to remain forever a cyclist was coming over that hill and speeding downhill into the countryside with the sun on my back and the wind in my face.

“This, combined with the later appreciation of the satisfying uphill challenge that Sheffield terrain has to offer, are the core reasons of my love for cycling.”

Tour de France reporter Ellen Beardmore is saddling up for Let’s Get Cycling.

The beginner biker will blog about her experiences as a new cyclist – commuting to work, for fitness and leisure around the region – at www.thestar.co.uk.

Sheffield bike store Giant Sheffield has supported the 100 day challenge by providing a bike, helmet and all the safety equipment needed for the drive.

Shop manager Andy Liversidge, who has seen a boom in interest at the Queens Road store thanks to Le Grand Depart, will also provide expert tips along the journey.

He said: “By helping Ellen we are going to hopefully broadcast a message that will get people into cycling, paticularly women, before the Tour de France.

“Hopefully it will encourage people to come and see us and what we have to offer – we have a female specific department which is pretty new to Sheffield – with specially tailored bikes and equipment.

“The Tour de France is a once in a lifetime chance for Sheffield, people have no idea how big it is going to be.

“We have everything that people of all ages, also including children, need to get up and go on two wheels.”

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