A keen cyclist who was inspired to get on her bike for the first time since retirement is encouraging other people to sign up to Sky Ride Sheffield, which this year will be attended by Great Britain BMX rider Curtis Manaton.

More than 1,000 people have already signed up to take part in Sky Ride Sheffield on 10 August, one of 14 free events across the country organised by British Cycling, Sky and local authority partners. They are a great day out for friends and families, with loads to do both on and off a bike.

Ride Leader and Sheffield’s Sky Ride Ambassador Betty-Ann Hutchin, of Hillsborough, is encouraging as many people as possible inspired by the Tour de France Grand Depart in Sheffield to sign up to the event alongside Curtis.

The 67-year-old was inspired to learn to cycle for the first time after retiring in July 2011. She received lessons from cycle skills initiative Pedal Ready and gradually built up her riding skills from doing one lap of Hillsborough Park to riding on Sheffield’s roads. She loves cycling so much she is now helps run Sky Ride Local guided bike rides at parks across Sheffield.

She said: “I hadn’t been taught how to ride a bike a child – once the stabilisers were took off it was a disaster! But when I retired in 2011 a friend suggested I learn properly and I contacted Pedal Ready. It was certainly a challenge but I haven’t looked back since. I love the freedom and sense of achievement it’s given me, it’s wonderful and has certainly opened up new opportunities for me. Before I started riding my breathing and strength wasn’t good but it inspired me to learn to swim and join a gym too so I now feel healthier and stronger and can cycle further.

“Sky Rides are brilliant events and I hope my experience shows that anyone can get on their bikes and give it a go. I know it will be a fantastic atmosphere on the day and I really hope as many people as possible, whether it’s on your own or with your friends and family, will sign up and take part.”

The Sky Ride comprises of a five mile route closed to motor traffic from 11am to 3pm. Participants can cycle all or part of the route which is a circuit from Devonshire Green along Charter Row, Ecclesall Road, along Bramall Lane and into Sheffield United’s Football Ground where cyclists can ride around the perimeter of the famous pitch for the first time.

The route then takes cyclists along Arundel Street to Howard Street passing the Millennium Galleries, Tudor Square, the Winter Garden, Sheffield Town Hall, Barker’s Pool and City Hall and returning to Devonshire Green.

The friendly Bike Café will be on hand providing refreshments all day and the brand new ‘Loud Zone Tunnel’ and ‘Tricks and Tunes’ area around the route will create a real festival atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

Curtis Manaton, BMX Rider for the Great Britain Cycling Team, joined British Cycling’s BMX Academy when it was re-established in December 2011. He celebrated his first success at the St Etienne Indoor Championships in December 2012, where he finished second in the Trophy of Nations

At the first round of the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Manchester in April, he qualified fourth into the TT Super Final.
He said: “Sky Ride Big Bike events make it easier than ever to get out on your bike and spend quality time with family and friends. You can ride safely on traffic-free streets whilst taking in the best bits of the city, plus it’s free to take part. I’m thrilled to be taking part in Sky Ride Sheffield this year.

“2014 is a huge year for cycling in Yorkshire with the Tour de France Grand Depart inspiring people across the nation, there’s never been a better time to get on a bike. I encourage everyone to sign up for Sky Ride Sheffield and give cycling a go.”

Everyone that signs up to Sky Ride Sheffield is entitled to a free expert bike check worth £14.99 at Halfords. And they will also be on hand at the event to help out with last minute mechanical problems.

British Cycling is also providing a series of free guided bike rides in Sheffield throughout the year, where cyclists can enjoy great routes with support from British Cycling trained Ride Leaders. The rides are split into three levels for those who want to build their confidence or want to stretch their legs for a more robust cycling challenge.

There will be 50 free British Cycling guided rides every Sunday until November. Take part in two or more of these rides in July and you can grab yourself some British Cycling gifts, including water bottles, neck buffs and the chance to win a VIP cycling experience to the Tour of Britain this September.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said: “The Tour de France was such a memorable day for Sheffield and for Yorkshire. The turnout of spectators was incredible and it will be remembered as one of the greatest sporting events in the city’s history.

“We want to build on that to encourage more people to cycle in our city. The aim is to get a much broader range of local people cycling, for recreation and for transportation in both urban and rural areas. You can get involved in cycling in Sheffield, whatever your age or ability.

“Our partnership with British Cycling is a key part of this. The Sky Ride gives a great opportunity to cycle in the city centre with friends and family and enjoy a Sunday out on traffic-free roads. There really has never been a better time to get on your bike! It’s affordable and great for your health.”

For more information about Sky Ride Sheffield and to sign up please visit www.goskyride.com/sheffieldSkyRide

For more information about Sky Ride Local free guided rides and Ride Social please visit www.goskyride.com/Sheffield.