Sunday, May 8, 2016 - 16:00

Bright sunshine and salt spray greeted hundreds of cyclists who took part in the second annual Eden Classic mass bike ride today (Sunday May 8).

Nearly 800 riders registered for the sportive, which started and finished at the home of the famous Biomes and took winding hilly routes through the spectacular south Cornwall countryside and along the coast.

The Eden Classic is organised by Eden and fellow Cornwall-based charity Tempus Leisure.

A combination of keen amateurs and seasoned club riders took to one of three routes - 35 miles, 62 miles and a beastly 100-mile route, which took cyclists deep into South East Cornwall.

As well as punishing climbs and breath-taking views, riders were treated to tasty snacks at food stops at The Lost Gardens of Heligan and, for those on the 100-mile ride, the Jubilee Inn in Pelynt.

The weather was sunny and a warm breeze blew across the course. Splashing waves greeted riders at the picturesque village of Portmellon, spraying them as they passed through.

Riders came to the Classic from as far afield as Sheffield, London, the Midlands and the Isle of Wight. Wales was also well represented with riders from Caerphilly, Abergavenny and Pontypool.

Cornish cycle clubs were there in big numbers, with One and All Cycling, Penzance Wheelers, Penwith Velo, Lanhydrock Wheelers and lots more providing multiple riders.

Andy Parker, British Cycling’s Regional Events Officer, sampled the 35-mile route today. He said: “I thought it was great, I was really impressed and it was a good fun route. It is a challenging ride, with plenty of short, steep hills but the views of the coastline and the lanes around the villages were a real highlight for me.”

Steve Clarke, 33, from Luxulyan rode the 35-mile route and was the first rider to cross the line this morning. He said “I only started riding in February, so not bad for my first time! It was exhausting but the hills were good.”

The Eden Classic is due to finish at 6pm this evening.

The Classic was the culmination of a weekend of top cycling action at Eden, which also saw the project playing host to the first round of the StreetVelodrome 2016 series and a pop-up BMX park.

Gordon Seabright, Managing Director of the Eden Project, said: “It’s brilliant to see so many people enjoying our second Eden Classic as part of a great weekend of cycling.

“We believe the routes are some of the most challenging and spectacular in the country, with the best food, and we pride ourselves on being a fabulous venue to begin and end such an epic ride.”

Ceri Harvey, Event Manager at Tempus Leisure, said: “It’s been a great day so far with an incredible spirit among the riders. They’ve been rolling across the finish line full of enthusiasm for the stunning views and unique challenge that the Eden Classic brings.”

StreetVelodrome at the Eden Project marked the first time a velodrome – a steeply-sloped, Olympic-style cycle track – has come to Cornwall, Devon or Somerset.

The weekend saw professional and amateur riders taking part in thrilling pursuit races, as well as taster sessions for adults and children alike.

Twelve professional riders competed at Eden, including downhill mountain bike champion and amateur boxer Jess Stone, Guinness World Record holder Matti Hemmings, TV presenter and former StreetVelodrome champion Anna Glowinski and 2015 StreetVelodrome champion and crowd favourite Dave Johnson.

This exciting addition to the 2016 Series Calendar is a joint venture between StreetVelodrome, Eden and CORMAC (a Cornwall Council owned Company).

The Eden Classic will return on Sunday May 7, 2017.