To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the bicycle, a Whitwell-to-Norwich cycle rally is taking place on the Marriott’s Way Norfolk Trail on Sunday September 10 between 11am and 4pm. People are being urged to bring along their bikes both new and old to the event organised by Norfolk County Council, as part of the Marriott’s Way Heritage Trail Project, and Pushing Ahead.
The ride is set to stretch the 11 miles between the former Marlpit Arms pub, in Lower Hellesdon, and Whitwell Station near Reepham, and there will be refreshments and activities at each end of the rally route throughout the day. Everyone is welcome to go along and for those without their own bike it’ll be easy to take to two wheels on the day as free bicycle loan will be available at Whitwell, subject to availability, with a minibus back to Whitwell from the Marlpit Arms for those cyclists who need it. Martin Wilby, chairman of the environment, transport and development committee, said: “Over 100,000 cyclists, walkers and horse riders already use the Marriott’s Way every year which is hardly surprising as this accessible attractive traffic-free route links Aylsham, Reepham, Lenwade, Drayton, and Costessey with the heart of the city. “Do come along to see the rally and don’t forget you’re welcome to bring your bike to ride the trail and explore the fascinating history of this former railway line. You never know you may even find that the Marriott’s Way could be a new healthy route for your daily commute or somewhere from which to explore the beautiful Wensum valley countryside.” At Whitwell and Reepham Station the cycle rally will be setting off from 11am with people encouraged to dress in 1940s theme to match the train rides, restored station and mini-museum displays there on the day. During the day there will also be heritage railway displays, and the café at Whitwell station will be open from 8am for breakfast. At the Marlpit Arms end of the route there will be a host of events, activities and refreshments. The first set of riders along the rally route will be arriving from about midday after their ride down from Whitwell with prizes being awarded for best dressed adult, child and bike. Visitors will be able to get involved in cycling activities including balance bikes for children and adults, a bicycle obstacle course and there will be the chance to have a go at using the “smoothie” bike to create your own drink and a paint spinning bike to make a unique piece of art to take home. Live music will come from local folk music group The Marlpit Collective at 3.30pm and local artists will be displaying their work alongside an exhibition of vintage bikes and furniture and a look at the history of the Marlpit Arms pub and plans for its future. Locally-produced food will be available including a vegan curry alongside a hog roast, cakes and scones and real ales. And inbetween 11am and 6pm visitors will be able to meet lambs, sheep, a pony and small mammals with Angelica’s Rainbow, and even watch lamb racing. For younger cyclists and anyone wanting a shorter ride there will also be the opportunity to join the route at Drayton, riding just half the course.