A FORESTRY Commission drive to bring biking to the masses is gearing up with the official opening of the Dalby Bike Barn on Saturday.
The new facility will provide a base for a National Centre of Excellence for the CTC, the national cycling charity, who will run a wide range of courses to get more people to saddle up and enjoy the buzz and benefits of pedal power.
The launch will be marked with a Dalby 13 Expo event featuring free cycling taster sessions throughout the day.
There will also be an exhibition of the latest bikes and gear together with guest appearances by biking celebrities.
Dalby Forest has emerged as one of the UK’s pre-eminent mountain bike destinations since the Forestry Commission opened a 55 kilometre (35 mile) single track network in 2007.
The 3,440 hectare (8,600 acre), near Pickering, has staged two rounds of the UCI World Cup Mountain Bike championships and a stage of the Tour of Britain.
Becky Mayo, of the Forestry Commission said: “You don’t need to be Bradley Wiggins or dress in Lycra to have fun. Biking is for everyone and the CTC will be running courses aimed at women, youngsters and the over 50s, together with a host of other skills sessions. That very much fits in with the Forestry Commission’s aim to broaden access to Dalby’s bike trails. We are excited by this new partnership.”
The Dalby Bike Barn is operated on the Forestry Commission’s behalf by the CTC and Pace Cycles, which has been manufacturing bikes and components for 25 years in North Yorkshire.
A full bike hire service is already in operation with some machines adapted for use by people with special needs.
A new full-time CTC Cycling Development Officer has also been recruited, based at Dalby.
He is 42-year-old Mike Hawtin, from Pickering, who said: “The centre is the first of its kind in the UK for the CTC and many of the initiatives we pioneer here will be rolled out elsewhere. Sometimes people get a bit fearful when they hear the word ‘mountain’ in mountain biking, but in reality if you can ride a bike you can ride in the forest. My job is to break down barriers and encourage people to experience the thrill of exploring the forest on wheels, whatever their ability. There are plenty of routes for all levels and biking is about fun as well as being good for you.”