Suffolk and the surrounding areas are gearing up for the visit of thousands of cyclists this weekend when the Mildenhall Cycling Rally takes place.
The festival of just about everything cycling will, as usual, take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 29th – Monday 31st August 2015) at Mildenhall College’s Sheldrick Way Site, whose grounds and playing fields will become a temporary campsite for hundreds of caravans, motorhomes and tents of all shapes and sizes.
“The Rally is known throughout the UK’s cycling community as one of the best all-round cycling weekends that appeals to cyclists of all ages and especially families. Although it is important to stress that the event is open to everyone locally as well” said Mark Burchett the chairman of the organisers, Mildenhall Cycling Club.
This also includes the two-day Trade Show (Sunday and Monday) open to the public, which will see new companies exhibiting and trading at the Rally for the first time. This is a unique opportunity for the cyclists attending the Rally who already know the advantages of the Trade Show, as well as local people to see a variety of companies selling a range of complete cycles to accessories often at bargain prices, all on their doorstep!
With the popularity of cycling continuing to grow, the Safer Neighbourhood Team of Suffolk Police in Mildenhall will have a presence at the Rally every day. Part of that will include giving out free security advice and the secure marking of cycles, which will be completely free of charge and open to everyone, whether they’re staying at the Rally or are local residents.
The grass-track forms the centrepiece of the Rally, with a full supporting list of grass-track events every day from 12noon. Organiser of the grass-track and father of the retired World and Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton, Max, already has over 70 entries and fully expects to equal the 120 riders that competed over the three days in 2014.
Such is the interest from juvenile riders (under 16) that Saturday’s track programme is devoted solely to them, with the Seniors, including a very healthy number of women entered, will contest the racing on the Sunday and Monday.
The highlight on the track has got to be the National 8km Championship that takes place on the Sunday, with the winner expected to come from Ben Elliot (VC St Raphael), Martin Smith (Chesterfield Couriers), John McClelland (Agiskoviner CC) and Charles Fletcher (Cairngorm CC).
Elliot is a former National 8km Champion, having won the title when the Mildenhall Club staged it in 2005 ahead of McClelland. The latter was also runner-up in the National 8km when it was last held at Mildenhall in 2011. Smith is another regular at Mildenhall and in the same 8km in 2011 took the bronze medal.
Fletcher is an unknown quantity as this will be the first time he has competed at Mildenhall, but is the reigning Scottish 3000m and 6000m Grass-Track Champion!
Other competitive events include the Madison Cyclo-Cross on Monday combining the slick sections of the grass with the adjacent woodland, which provides an early season test for the seasoned riders, while for the novices can still take part and enjoy it. There is also a ‘normal’ Cyclo-Cross events for the Under 16’s.
Especially for the under 17’s there will be the Children’s Duathlon on Sunday, which will see them cycle and run within the confines of the Rally site. And for the under 16’s West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club will be running the Go-Ride Skilful Riding on Saturday morning.
On the touring front, C.T.C. (Cyclists Touring Club) Suffolk will be organising 57, 100, 160, 200 & 300km Audax Rides on the Saturday. For those that want something more relaxing, Mildenhall Cycling Club will have their range of touring leaflets, offering a variety of scenery over varying distances.
Other attractions will include the tabletop Cycle Jumble on Saturday, which has completely sold out. On a relaxing note on Sunday there will be the ever-popular Rally Quiz Night, with regular quiz-master Dave Sennitt controlling the proceedings.
The Rally is an ideal day-out for families, whether you’re from a cycling background or not. Every day there will be the Children’s Sports, while on the Sunday and Monday there will be a bouncy castle and face painter. Additionally on the Monday, there will be a circus skills-workshop. All of these attractions for the children are completely free of charge. In addition, there is free day parking and free entry to the Rally site.
If you want to watch a potential future International or Olympic cycling Champion there’s no better place than the Mildenhall Cycling Rally. It can boast among its many thousands of competitors over the years such impressive stars as Nicole Cook MBE, Ben Swift, Jason Kenny OBE, Steve Burke MBE, Emma and Laura Trott OBE and of course Victoria Pendleton CBE, who was a member of the Mildenhall club when she was growing up. It is at grass-tracks like this where these young riders cut their teeth and the skills they learnt have then stood them in good stead on the top international stages around the world.
A survey carried out by Mildenhall Cycling Club and Forest Heath District Council in 2012, revealed that nearly a quarter of a million pounds is put into the local economy every year by this nationally renowned event. A significant proportion of that is benefiting local businesses.
The survey showed that the average total-spend was £104.75; whilst the average spend per person was £48.91. The actual amount spent per respondent ranged from nothing up to £2,100. Based on a conservative estimate of the total number of visitors of 5,000, this equates to £244,550!
“What that survey also confirmed, was that we have a winning formula, with 100% of those surveyed, saying they were enjoying the event; as well as the Rally is a fun event held in a safe environment for families, something we always strive for” added Mr Burchett.
Cllr James Water, leader of Forest Heath District Council and Cabinet Member for Planning and Growth said: “The Mildenhall Cycling Rally is a great tourism event that allows us to showcase this fantastic part of West Suffolk on a national scale. It brings in thousands of visitors to our area every year and hundreds of thousands of pounds to our local economy. Olympic and Commonwealth champions have taken part in previous Mildenhall Cycling Rallies and I am sure that this year’s event over the August Bank Holiday weekend, will similarly attract both families and future stars of one of the UK’s most successful sports.”
More details of everything happening at the Rally can be found at www.mildenhallrally.org.uk
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