It’s time for residents to throw on their trainers, strap on their helmets and hop on their bikes ready for this Sunday’s Andover Cycling Festival.
Hundreds of cyclists are gearing up to take part in the second annual event run by Halo Sports, which will see both novice and experienced riders tackle a range of routes in and around the town centre and beyond, between 8am and 5pm.
There will be courses for riders of all abilities, all starting and finishing at the Guildhall.
The schools and family fun ride covering a one-mile closed circuit through the town centre will start at 11.30am and finish at 1pm, with participants able to do as many laps as they want.
And for experienced cyclists with a competitive streak, there will be 25, 50 and 80-mile sportive rides through the Test Valley countryside as well as a range of criterium races.
There will also be plenty to see and do in the High Street for resting racers and spectators, with BMX displays from Andover BMX Club and a variety of stands for people to browse and find out more about cycling.
Harry Lodge, managing director of Halo Sports and former professional cyclist, said: “Whether you’re an experienced rider or a complete novice, there really will be something for everyone at this Sunday’s Cycling Festival. Fundamentally, this is about bringing people together to have fun, get fit and hopefully discover a new-found love for cycling or indulge in a sport they are already passionate about and unleash their competitive side. We are really keen for families to get involved as cycling is a brilliant way for people of all ages to get out and about together and really make the most of the stunning views and amazing attractions the area has to offer.
“Even if you don’t want to take part in any of the events, I’d love people to come along to just enjoy the spectacle and fantastic atmosphere in the town centre. And hopefully make the most of the good weather, too!”
Andover Vision is one of a number of local partners that have come together to support the cycling festival, awarding a £5,000 rant towards the cost of running the event.
Andover Vision chair and leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “This looks set to be a brilliant event for families, which is why Andover Vision members were so keen to get behind it. Bringing people together in the town to have fun and make the most of what Andover and the surrounding area has to offer really resonates with the Andover Vision and is something we are very much looking to encourage. It will be fantastic fun for seasoned cyclists and novices alike and I really hope it becomes a popular annual event in the town. Having signed up to the 50-mile cycle myself, I’m looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation!”
Harry added: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to this event, be it through funding, time, effort or expertise. I can’t wait to see it all come together and hope to see everyone there on Sunday!”
There will be a number of road closures in place for the duration of the event, which will be signposted in advance.