Camcycle’s popular ride to Reach Fair returns on Monday 1 May. It’s free, open to all and a celebration of local, everyday cycling culture
If you arrive in the village of Reach in East Cambridgeshire on any normal day, there’s little clue that this settlement of around 350 residents has an impressive history. A small, grey-brick church sits between village hall and pub overlooking a
quaint, quiet village green. But on the first bank holiday of May, everything changes. An annual fair, granted its charter by King John in 1201, attracts visitors from miles around to gather pennies thrown by the Mayor of Cambridge, enjoy fairground rides, buy goodies from local stalls and be entertained by local performers. The village swells to around 5,000 people – and about a fifth of them arrive by cycle.
ROLL UP, ROLL UP
The Reach Ride, which brings a colourful and diverse crowd of cyclists to the fair, was started by local cycling organisation
Camcycle in 2007. Back then, 44 people enjoyed the route from Cambridge. By 2013, more than 500 were joining the fun. And in 2018, during record-breaking bank holiday temperatures, over 1,000 people took part.
Each year, more families discover the event, bringing excited youngsters in baby seats, cargo bikes, tagalongs and trailers as well as pedalling independently. It’s generously supported by Cambridge City Council along with international tyre manufacturer and Tour de France sponsor Continental – and is as eagerly awaited by many Cambridgeshire residents as the more famous French ride!
Camcycle’s aim has always been to create an event which is free and open to everyone, welcoming all kinds of rider and cycle. Participants are advised to dress for the weather, but apart from that, anything goes! Last year’s outfits included Lycra
and leggings, dungarees and dresses, hi-vis jackets and Hawaiian shirts. You’ll need water and suncream with you, plus snacks, a bike lock and cash to spend at the fair. Before you go, make sure your bike is ready to ride with a few basic tools packed, like a cycle pump. If you have any issues on the day, a small team of mechanics from Outspoken Cycles will be on hand to help.
ALONG FOR THE RIDE
The ride from Cambridge to Reach (and back!) is around 15 miles each way, but you can join partway or just enjoy a short section. Camcycle tells us a team will be gathering outside Great St Mary’s Church on King’s Parade from 9am for a 10am departure, before cycling past the Green Dragon Bridge on Stourbridge Common at 10.15am and Jubilee Square in the Marleigh development (near Newmarket Road Park & Ride) around 10.30am. A separate ride from Ely departs from the railway station at 10am with members of Ely Cycling Campaign. For the return journey, led rides leave Reach at 2pm to Ely and 2.30pm to Cambridge, though you may prefer to make your own way home.
Find full details and a route map at camcycle.org.uk/reachride