HUNDREDS of cyclists braved torrential downpours, wind and mud to take part in the first Pedal Power Festival in Northwich on Sunday.

More than 200 riders of all ages and on all kinds of bicycle enthusiastically tackled the five mile bike ride from the town centre into the beautiful countryside on its doorstep – returning with a healthy coating of mud and plenty of big smiles.

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Back in Witton Street and Tabley Street there was a host of activities with bike stalls, food, pedal powered karaoke, live music, art projects, displays, skate ramps and a funfair.

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Stiltwalkers and a unicyclist added carnival flavour, with a spontaneous ‘stunt-off’ between the waistcoated unicyclist and world record holding BMXer Matti Hemmings entertaining festival-goers between planned displays.

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Town mayor Clr Bob Robinson, who cheered off each wave of cyclists on their ride, said: “In a word, it was brilliant.

“The whole town came together with people of all ages and abilities taking part.

“There was a group from Wythenshawe who came in a van to Northwich and did the course twice – they had a tandem with a trailer on with huge butterfly wings on the back and they were all cheering and laughing.

“They said they were made very welcome and will be back next year.

“The adverse weather made no difference – everyone was cheerful and enjoyed it and everyone was glad to take part.”

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The festival was inspired by the Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign to celebrate cycling, encourage readers out on their bikes and highlight that there is a type of cycling for everyone.

Guy Rands, from the organising team, said: “Today was the realisation of a dream that was hatched just over 18 months ago and seeing all the smiles, laughter and mud all over the faces of the people taking part, particularly the children, made it all completely worthwhile.”

He thanked the organising team, stallholders and volunteers and added: “Today reinforced that the community of Northwich are prepared to come together, whatever the weather, to enjoy themselves and make the most of what this town has to offer.”

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Town council clerk Chris Shaw, from the team, said: “A group of people came together with an idea for an event in Northwich town centre to bring the community together.

“It’s been a lot of hard work but a lot of laughs and proves that partnership working works and proves that Northwich has got a great community.”

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