Cyclists have been commemorating one of the towering figures of English history with a 52-mile ride from Wantage in Oxfordshire, the birthplace of King Alfred the Great, to Winchester in Hampshire.
The Wantage/Grove Herald reported that Sunday’s ride marked the 900th anniversary of the reburial at Hyde Abbey, Winchester, of the monarch who united the Anglo-Saxons against the Vikings during the 9th Century AD.
Along the way, the 129 riders passed the Blowing Stone near Uffington, where the king is reputed to have summoned his army to fight the Vikings.
There was disappointment, however, for one cyclist who had been hoping to take part in the ride, the outgoing Mayor of Wantage, Patrick O’Leary, who was suffering from a knee injury he picked up while out riding a fortnight ago.
Mr O’Leary was there to wave the riders off, however, and said “It’s all about community and what I did find amazing is King Alfred is the only one classed ‘Great’ and after all these years, we are still doing something to commemorate him.”
The event formed part of the Hyde900 celebrations, marking the history of Hyde Abbey, which now lies in ruins.
One participant in the ride, 57-year-old Len Double, cycled up to Wantage from Winchester to join the ride back to his home town, and told the newspaper: “Wantage is a fantastic place. I will definitely go again. We thought the whole route was really well thought out.”
It's not known whether the cyclists stopped off en route to enjoy some burnt cakes in tribute to one of the legends surrounding the king.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.