Monday, May 11, 2015 - 14:45

The first-ever mass-participation cycle ride from the Eden Project yesterday (Sunday May 10) saw around 700 riders take to the roads and lanes of the stunning south Cornwall coast.

The Eden Classic sportive, delivered by Eden in partnership with fellow Cornwall charity Tempus Leisure, presented a sinew-stretching series of rides in one of the biggest mass cycle events Cornwall has ever seen.

Under misty skies and on dry roads, riders from around the country assembled at Eden near St Austell just after dawn and from 8 am paraded through the site past the world-famous Mediterranean and Rainforest Biomes to the start point. 

They then ascended the steep hill and hair-pin bends in the side of the former china clay quarry as they started their challenging journeys along one of three routes of 35, 62 and 100 miles.

All three rides took in a "feed station" stop at The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the longest route had another in the village of Lerryn. A unique ingredient was an energy bar for each rider made with baobab  - The Tree of Life -  by Eden sous chef Mike Greer, who also took part in the event. Friends and families of the riders were able to enjoy Heligan and Eden free of charge on the day.  

The full 100-mile route took in communities and beauty spots including Carlyon Bay, Charlestown, Mevagissey, Caerhays, Portloe, Portholland, Fowey, Lostwithiel, Lerryn and Lanreath - all of which had never seen a cycle ride on this scale before.

Among the participants were two top cyclists from Velosure Starley Primal Pro Cycling, based in Plymouth. Rising star Emily Attfield, 16, from Tavistock, Devon, is a British endurance cyclist.  In 2014, Emily was ranked second in the National Female A Road and Track category by British Cycling.  Joe Petrowski, 28, from Claremont, New Hampshire, USA, won the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships in 2013.  He left his job in the space industry to move to the UK and become a pro cyclist. Cycling clubs from Cornwall and Devon were very well represented.

Gordon Seabright, Director of the Eden Project, said:  "The first Eden Classic was a great event with a fabulous spirit among the cyclists and those who came to support them.  We commend all who completed the courses in what must be one of the most beautiful and challenging sportives anywhere in the world.  We plan this to be the first of many."

Geoff Samuels of Tempus Leisure, who devised the route and set the riders off, said:  "The Eden Classic is established as a unique and challenging ride but it is not one for the faint-hearted.   Anyone taking part, from the pros to the casual Sunday riders, will be feeling it in the legs today and all richly deserve their medals. Hats off to all who took part."

Participant Rod James, chairman of Cornwall's One and All Cycling Club, which had 30 riders taking part, said on completing 70 miles: "It is a hard ride and is absolutely spectacular - sea views, woodlands and of course Eden and the Biomes at the start and finish. I have done more than 20 sportives including events in France and Belgium and this is right up there with the best. The organisation is as slick and good as any I have taken part in. The refreshment stations were great - the food was a knock out. All the cyclists I have seen are happy and cheerful about the day."

The Eden Classic was sponsored by acclaimed British cycling brand Boardman Bikes, founded by Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman. To celebrate, two participants, David Mills from Ivybridge and Jane Gardner from Launceston won Boardman aluminium road bikes in a prize draw. The bikes were supplied through Velotive, Cornwall's exclusive Boardman Elite and Performance Series dealer.