Forget the Tour of Britain. . . Hundreds of cyclists in Cumbrian challenge

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Nearly 200 cyclists took to a winding network of roads in north Cumbria for the third Border Sportive.

Riders - some of who had travelled from the south of England and northern Scotland - were on their bikes early as they set off from Lanercost Priory on three routes, covering distances of 30, 50 or 80 miles.

The longest route, known as The Invasion, saw cyclists make their way along the Scottish border, crossing between England and Scotland - and stopping for a bite to eat - before heading back to the finishing point at Lanercost.

"We had more than 170 people register this year, which we're really pleased with," Alice Gill, one of the organisers, told The Cumberland News.

"We had some brilliant feedback from the people that took part as well. We had people come down from Inverness to be part of it as well as people from Sevenoaks, in Kent.

"The Carlisle cycling club, the Border City Wheelers, sent a 30-strong team as well, which was great to see.

"The catering for the feed station is done by Bells of Lazonby and Cranston's and that's what makes it so popular, on other sportives you're usually just given a banana or a protein bar and you're back on your way.

"This is different - there's honey glazed sausages and all sorts.

"Because it's not competitive, people are just out enjoying their ride, there's no desire to try and set the best time. There was one guy out who had a lung disease and was cycling to try and improve his health.

"He was just so happy that he'd been able to complete 30 miles."

A sportive is non-competitive bike ride and riders set off at 10-minute intervals in order to ensure that they were spread out.

Another one of the event's organisers, Olly Burns, added: "It started out because there wasn't any other sportive in the area. We were sick of having to load up the bikes and travel elsewhere.

"The roads around the area are ideal for cycling so we decided to set up one of our own. There's the option to complete 30, 50 or 80 miles so there's something from beginners up to experienced riders.

"For me, one of the best bits of feedback we had on the day was someone telling us that it's the closed you can get to a closed-road event."

Both Alice and Olly said that plans are already underway for the 2018 Sportive.

"We're definitely going to be holding another one," Alice said. "Although we don't know the exact date yet, it will probably be the first weekend in September."

Olly added: "We can definitely accommodate up to 300 riders, so we're hoping that it will be bigger next year."

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