Gallery: Thousands join Bradley Wiggins on East Lancashire charity ride (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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Gallery: Thousands join Bradley Wiggins on East Lancashire charity ride
THOUSANDS of people, some from as far away as America and Australia, descended on East Lancashire for a bike ride with Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.
They joined the Tour de France champion for Ride With Brad, the first event for his new charity the Bradley Wiggins Foundation.
And he has pledged to stage it annually and make it 'the best sportive in the country.'
In total 1,424 cycling enthusiasts went to Barnoldswick to follow the Chorley 32-year-old on a bike ride around some of his favourite training routes.
The event included a 160km ride that started in Victory Park and did a loop taking in Gisburn and Clitheroe before heading up towards High Bentham and Lancaster before returning south to Longridge and then through Whalley and Barrow to Pendle and start line.
An alternative 100km ride that skipped the hike up to Lancaster was also available for those not wishing to take on the toughest challenge.
Money raised from the event will be used by the foundation to encourage people to exercise on a regular basis, as well as supporting athletes and providing equipment or facilities to allow participation in sports.
First riders on the 160km loop set off just after 7am following a speech from Bradley, who rang the Olympic bell he used on July 27 to open the Olympic Games in London. Groups of riders then left at two minute intervals.
Pendle Council’s regeneration chief and president of British Cycling Brian Cookson was the first over the start line.
Bradley then joined in one of the groups, along with wife Catherine and father-in-law Dave Cockram.
Riders in the 100km route set off from 8.30am.
Speaking after the ride, Bradley said: "The amount of people that showed up was overwhelming.
“I want to make this an annual thing. I want to let it grow and evolve and who knows, one day there could be 10,000 people doing it.
“This wasn't a one-off. I want it to become a firm fixture in the calendar. I want to make it the best sportive in the country."
And he said he wanted to help others with an interest in cycling.
He said: “I thought it would be nice to put something back into cycling.
“If you can inspire someone to get into cycling at an early age then that is fantastic.
“We sat down in a pub in Preston in December and talked about doing a ride in the hope of getting 200 people to turn up, so to see all these people is brilliant.”
He also announced he is to take part in the Tour of Britain, which sets off from Ipswich next month.
He said: “I’m doing the Tour of Britain now. I’ve not done it in two years so it will be nice.
“I’ll try to stay fit between now and then so I don’t embarrass myself. It will be good.”
He said the route of the Ride With Brad event was one he was familiar with.
He said: “Waddington is really tough, I use it a lot for training.
“This is the best time of year to ride it, it can be very difficult in December. The roads here are fantastic, but they are some of the hardest in the country.”
Organiser Mark Sandamas, of Pennine Events, said: "We hope to have more events. We've seen the reaction on the streets, it's been tremendous."
One of the first riders over the start line was Christopher Smith, 26, from Hapton.
The Mytholmroyd Riding Club member said: “It is very exciting to be riding with Bradley Wiggins, considering he has won the Olympics and the Tour de France.
“This is the first properly-timed event I have taken part in, but I regularly ride 100 miles.
“It is a good route.”
Cyclist Philip Cook also took part in the ride with his son, Liam.
The pair, from the Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley Scooter Club, wore T-shirts bearing the Mod symbol.
Philip said: “It is fantastic to be involved in this event.”
Craven councillor David Whipp said: “It has been fantastic. We’ve had thousands of folk coming down. We were talking to a lad who has come from the Cotswolds. He was absolutely loving it. He loved Barnoldswick, loved the ride and loved Bradley.”
Owner of cycling website bikesoup.cc Trevor Ward said: “It is the equivalent of Lionel Messi suddenly announcing he is to hold an open training session.
“You would get thousands of people going down to have a look.
“Here thousands can’t as it is in the middle of nowhere, but 2,000 people have signed up for it.”
The Mayor of Pendle, Coun Asjad Mahmood, said: “It’s fantastic for the area. We already have the Colne Grand Prix every year and it's a great success to have an Olympic medallist here.
“Bradley has been great for the country and Pendle as a whole.”