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Durham's top policeman aiming to tame The Beast

Chief Constable enters 50-mile sportive, his force's motorcycles to escort riders...

Durham Constabulary’s top police officer is set to tackle The Beast, a 50-mile mass participation ride around County Durham, which takes place in September 12 months after the cancellation of what had been scheduled to be the inaugural edition of the event due to problems securing insurance.

Last year’s event was called off at a late stage, although 50 of the 250 riders who had originally entered went ahead and rode the route anyway. This time around, according to The Northern Echo, organisers have planned ahead to ensure that there are no such problems, including securing police support – and Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, a keen cyclist, will be lending his backing by riding the event.

The ride forms part of the fourth annual Durham Big Ride, which comprises three other events and takes place over two weekends in September, and in recognition of his support, organisers have presented the police officer with the first entry number for The Beast II.

Chief Constable Stoddart told The Northern Echo: "I’ve done the Big Ride before and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m really pleased we have managed to work together with the county and the Big Ride people to enable The Beast to go ahead this year.

"It looks like a good, really challenging course,” he continued. “I would normally hope to complete a 50-mile ride in three hours, but given the hilly course, then I would estimate it could be nearer to four."

The event, which takes place on Sunday September 5, will start and finish at Sniperley Park and Ride site and riders will be given a police motorcycle escort out of Durham, as well as rolling road closures during the early stages of the itinerary.

The following Sunday there will be three further events based around the Aykley Heads Estate, with routes of 25, 12 and 1.5 miles.

Full details of all the events, which are expected to attract 1,700-plus participants, can be found on the Durham Big Ride website.

Simon has been news editor at 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.

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