Over 1500 riders took part in the inaugural ‘Ride with Brad’ Sportive on Sunday in aid of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation.
The 60 and 100 mile routes covered some of the challenging terrain over Lancashire’s toughest climbs used by Wiggins in training.
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Setting off an hour after the first riders on the 100 mile ride, Wiggins passed the majority of riders en-route offering words of encouragement as he rode by.
The roadside support could not be dampened by the drizzle and heavier rain which fell later in the afternoon. Tour De France style roadside family gatherings, bunting and flags welcomed the riders through some of Lancashire’s sleepiest villages, surely a first for a UK sportive.
With the ride seemingly a continuation of the Tour de France and Olympic ‘feel good’ wave, many returned to the Barnoldswick headquarters elated with the roadside support and of course the chance to ride, however briefly, with the cycling superstar.
At the post ride press conference Wiggins still seemed shell shocked by the public response.
“It was fantastic … it was more specific today because it was about cycling,” he said.
The Bradley Wiggins Foundation started in May 2012 as a way for Wiggins to put something back into sport at a grass roots level.
“My mum got into a lot of debt funding me as a kid you know, trying to buy me the best stuff as I got better and going to track championships and stuff. So [it’s great] if we can help parents along the way, supplying track bikes or a local club with helmets or rugby balls, whatever it is.
“Obviously [the concept’s] very broad at the moment. It was started as something very close to me but if we can make it bigger with my success then that’s great.”
On the ride itself Wiggins commented “the goal is to make this an annual thing and let it grow and evolve and, who knows, in ten years time there could be tens of thousands riding around there.
“I’m sure there are people still out there (on the route) now. If anything I would like to see it a bit easier because it was quite hard today! It took me six hours, so God knows what it is going to take some of the people out there.
“But it was brilliant just to see so many people out. Even at the end, people were not giving up and walking up some of the last climbs to get to the finish.
“We want to make it a firm fixture in the calendar really, it’s certainly something that I want to stick with and help it grow”.
Certainly given the size of the crowds in Victory Park in Barnoldswick welcoming Wiggins back after the ride and the success of Cycle Sport Pendle’s Go Ride sessions for kids during the day, the event laid a solid foundation for continued success in the future.