OLYMPIC hero Jason Kenny cheered on 7,000 cyclists yesterday as the town centre was overtaken by bike fever for the Bolton SkyRide.
From traditional racing bikes to unicycles, the town centre was amass with riders of all ages ready to take on the 5km loop covering Le Mans Crescent, Spa Road, Chorley New Road, Queens Park and Deansgate.
The sun shone on a sea of high visibility vests in Victoria Square, which were handed out to each participant for safety.
Triple London Olympic gold medallist Jason started the cycle ride at 11am alongside Matthew Rotherham, from Great Britain’s cycling team, and the Deputy Mayor of Bolton Cllr Colin Shaw.
It is the third year the event has been held in Bolton and the town is one of 15 places in the UK hosting a series of cycling events this summer.
Jason, from Farn-worth, said: “The event is a great opportunity for people of any ability to ride on the roads of Bolton without having to worry about traffic.
“The town has some fantastic buildings that aren’t easy to look at when there are cars on the road, but the SkyRide allows you to do that.
“It’s always a battle to get kids out on their bikes when they have things like Playstations in the house, but this is the perfect event for people of all ages to get involved with their families.
“The circuit showed off some of Bolton’s great spots, such as Queen’s Park, which is the perfect place to have a proper day out at any time of the year.”
Five-year-old Leo Close, from Lostock, who rode on a red mountain-style bike, agreed with Jason’s sentiments, declaring: “I love cycling. This is the best day ever.”
His mum Jacqui, who also has a daughter Phoebe, aged two, said: “We ride to and from school so cycling is nothing new to them, but this is different because it’s a family occasion that we take part in every year and they both love it.”
Along with the usual two-wheel pushbikes, there was a team of unicyclists headed by Dr Julian Page who works at Crompton Health Centre in Crompton Way — and it included 11-year-old Bobbie and eight-year-old Morgan Byrne.
Their father Peter said: “We have come all the way from Blackpool purely to take part in this. They have been riding unicycles now for about two years after joining a circus school. They got really good at it very quickly, so they decided to do the SkyRide on them.”
Four-year-old Harley Hargreaves, from Johnson Fold, came prepared with a special spiky mohican helmet, which his father David had ordered from Germany.
The father-of-three said: “You can’t get them from over here so I had to get one from Argos in Germany and another from eBay. It’s just something a bit different isn’t it?
“We normally come out to an ice cream parlour on the weekend, so this is a really nice change for us all to do this. Plus the weather is perfect which makes it so much better.”
Keith Davies, Bolton Council's director of development and regeneration, said: “The SkyRide is the key event in our programme for Bolton town centre — it really shows Bolton at its best.
“About 7,000 people turned out to join in with the ride and the activities that were on offer. We would like to encourage more people to come to the town and look forward to the other great events we have coming up in the summer.”