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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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The streets of Dublin are being taken over by cyclists next Sunday for an inaugural bike ride

The inaugural Great Dublin Bike Ride takes place on Sunday 13 September.

John Treacy, Ray D'Arcy, Pascal Donohue and Leo Varadkar will all be on their bike. Will you?
John Treacy, Ray D'Arcy, Pascal Donohue and Leo Varadkar will all be on their bike. Will you?
Image: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

SLOWLY BUT SURELY the mindset towards exercise and healthy living in Ireland is changing and next weekend will provide more irrefutable evidence of a new-found enthusiasm for exercise.

As many as 5,000 participants – with some coming from as far as Malaysia – will take to the streets of the capital for the inaugural Great Dublin City Bike Ride on Sunday 13 September, which is being staged to coincide with the European Week of Sport.

Unlike the recent Ironman 70.3 Dublin or any of the various marathons that take place each year, this is an event designed to bring people of all fitness levels together with the aim of inspiring the current and future generations to keep active.

The Irish Sports Council are behind the event but have worked closely with Cycling Ireland, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Dublin City Council and Healthy Ireland to bring a year’s worth of planning to fruition.

“The idea actually came from a trip myself and John Treacy were on a couple of years ago,” Dr Una May, Director of Participation and Ethics at the Irish Sports Council, tells The42.

“We were in South Africa for a conference and at the same time, there was a cycling event in Johannbesurg. The whole city shut down and cyclists took over. I said we needed to bring something like this to Dublin.

“It took a while but last year we approached Dublin City Council and the response has been great.”

The event format is based on the successful model used internationally to promote cycling, activity and mass participation and falls in line with the European Week of Sport’s aim of ‘informing, inspiring and facilitating.’

Irish Sports Council and Cycling Ireland launch The Great Dublin Bike Ride Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, TD, Roisin Hickey, Cycling Ireland, Dr. Una May, Irish Sports Council and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, TD. Source: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

Two routes of 60km and 100km – both starting and finishing in Smithfield – have been designed to accommodate all participants while the Garda Siochana, Irish Rail and Dublin Bus have been involved in the planning process.

“The event provides a tremendous opportunity for the people of Dublin to participate in a unique event based on physical activity and community engagement,” Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe said.

Not only is the Great Dublin Bike Ride unique in the fact it is a completely non-commercial event but it also underlines the cross departmental and unified government approach to mass participation and physical activity.

Registration fees have been subsided to a minimum in order to ensure there are no barriers to participation while a limited number of second-hand bikes are available for those without their own.

But it’s not just about the ride itself.

An exercise exhibition will take place in Smithfield over the course of the weekend with free talks and seminars available to members of the public.

Dublin City Council sports staff will be on hand to provide fitness tests while a range of local shops and restaurants are offering discounts throughout the weekend for participants and spectators.

“I have participated in similar events internationally and saw firsthand how successful they can be in increasing participation across all ages and all abilities,” John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council, said.

Source: European Week of Sport

“I really believe this is a great event to keep everyone active over the summer months and would encourage everyone, whether you are beginner or advanced cyclist to sign up and get involved.”

The success of the Dublin bikes scheme, as well as similar initiatives around the country, has demonstrated how cycling can be used as the springboard to promote healthy living.

The Great Dublin Bike Ride is certainly the first step to creating an environment where every sector of society can play a part in improving the health of a nation.

Registration for The Great Dublin Bike Ride is still open but closes on Sunday 6 September. All the event information can be found here.

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Ryan Bailey

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