The inspirational story of how three Dads from a quiet Oxfordshire market town are helping to find the next Laura Trott or Mark Cavendish
In 2014, Paul Mitchell, Tony Sefton and Keith Lansley from Wallingford all had teenage children regularly competing in races at the National Track Cycling Centre in Manchester. But without access to such facilities on their doorstep, their children were at a great disadvantage if they wanted to improve and be tested by those of a similar ability while training.
The dads put their heads together and, in discussion with their kids, formed a new cycling club for talented 16-19 year olds based in Wallingford. Over the past three years that club has grown to over 20 athletes who now race both on the National and International stage.
However, not content with just having a club of their own, the parents went one further in 2015 by setting up Wallingford’s own cycling festival, including a mix of races, community rides, and even penny farthing races! The first event attracted over 3,000 people to the town including the film crew for Midsomer Murders, who used the backdrop of the festival for their episode ‘Breaking the Chain’.
In 2016, the festival successfully hosted two of the biggest and most important road races in the British Cycling Calendar, the National Junior Road Race for 16-19 year olds.
This year, Wallingford Festival of Cycling will take place over a whole weekend, packed with events to inspire as many people as possible, young and old, to get on their bikes. This non-profit festival is run entirely by volunteer cycling enthusiasts and features a mix of free and paid-for activities all centred around the community and bikes.
Not bad for an event organised by three dads who only formed a cycling club four years ago!